Daimler and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have broken ground on their joint-venture manufacturing complex in Mexico, which will begin producing compact luxury vehicles under the Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti badges within a couple years.
COMPAS (Cooperation Manufacturing Plant Aguascalientes) is a $1 billion equal-parts joint venture between the two auto giants, and will be located next to Nissan’s existing plant that produces the Nissan Micra, Versa, Note and Sentra compact and sub-compact cars for American markets.
Nissan is Mexico’s most prolific producer of vehicles, accounting for one in four vehicles sold in the country. This will be Daimler’s first production facility for compact cars in the NAFTA region. Daimler already builds trucks and busses in Mexico, as well as other facilities for parts distribution, product delivery and a training centre.
The joint venture will be headed by an international management team headed by CEO Ryoji Kurosawa, Chief Financial Officer Uwe Jarosch and Chief Quality Officer Glaucio Leite.
The plant is expected to have an initial production capacity of more the 230,000 annually, with the capacity to grow according to demand. It is expected to create 3,600 direct jobs by 2020 and generate the possibility for 12,000 indirect jobs with the increase in the Mexican supply base.
The two companies will cooperate on the research and development of a compact platform that will become the base for new Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti vehicles, expected to be sport compacts (hatchbacks). The two will safeguard brand identity with styling cues, specifications and driving characteristics.
No further details are available about the two vehicles, but rumours have circulated about the Mercedes-Benz model being the new A-Class or a replacement, with the Infiniti being a version of that (even though it precedes the M-B model by a year). However, with Nissan set to announce its upcoming sport compact Q30 will be built in England for 2016, attention turns to the similarly-styled QX30 compact crossover (of which a concept was introduced at the 2015 New York International Auto Show). Mercedes-Benz would then follow a year later with a revised GLA compact SUV. To satisfy expected global demand, the vehicles will also be built at facilities in Europe and China.