Under the new agreement, 30,000 towbars will be manufactured at the Nissan Casting Plant (NCAP) in Dandenong, creating 20 full-time jobs.
NCAP’s production will expand to include sports bars for Navara early next year, followed by nudge bars in early 2013.
The deal aims to lay the foundations for Nissan’s medium-term strategies, GT2012 and NP88, which call for the Japanese brand to lead the import market in Australia, and to achieve an eight per cent global market share and eight per cent operating profit.
Nissan has invested $4 million retooling the Dandenong casting facility to accommodate the new accessory fabrication line. Nissan previously sourced its towbars from an Australian parts supplier before the manufacturer outsourced production to Asia.
The local business will also source its steel from an Australian supplier, which promises to provide more protection against market fluctuations and add surety to future development plans.
Nissan Australia executive general manager aftersales & NCAP, Tony Carraturo, said the repatriation of accessory manufacturing was a strong acknowledgement of the Australian industry and the competitiveness of the local business.
“This business restructure plays a major role in positioning Nissan for future growth; our mid-term goals of importer market leadership and an even greater footprint in the 4WD commercial and leisure segments,” Mr Carraturo said.“The restructure gives Nissan direct influence over the factors which will have a critical influence on its growth and development. We will have more control over lead times, costs and shipping.”
Nissan Australia says it will perform rigorous testing on its locally manufactured products at its proving grounds, and in 2012 will invest in a durability laboratory in Dandenong to oversee production quality.
The accessories deal follows an announcement in March that will see NCAP exclusively produce aluminium components for the Nissan LEAF and other Nissan electric vehicles. The plant is eventually expected to produce 22,000 EV components per month.
The Dandenong plant was founded almost 30 years ago and was home to vehicle production until 1991, at which time it established itself as a standalone supplier. It currently operates three shifts, six days a week, employing 146 full-time and 26 casual employees.