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Nissan JV Rolls Out First China-Built Paladin SUV Model

BEIJING February 19, 2003; Dow Jones reported that Zhengzhou Nissan Automobile Co., a joint venture involving Japan's third largest automaker, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (NSANY or 7201) , this week launched its first China-built Nissan Paladin sports utility vehicle.

The new Nissan Paladin SUV hits the market just as several foreign automakers are attempting to crack China's nascent SUV market. Automakers predict annual sales of SUVs in China will double within a decade to more than 120,000 units by 2010.

The rollout of the new SUV also marks the 10th anniversary of the Sino- Japanese joint venture based in China's eastern province of Henan, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The Paladin is the second Nissan model produced at the joint venture facility, adding to the Nissan Pickup which is already on sale in China. The joint venture has set an initial production target for the Paladin model of 10,000 units in 2003, the statement said.

"Both partners strive to make Paladin become the No.1 brand of SUV in China," the statement said.

"It (the joint venture) is confident that Paladin, with its innovative design concept, will become a powerful flagship SUV."

To achieve that aim, Zhengzhou Nissan will need to overcome established rivals such as General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG .

GM's Jinbei GM joint venture is already one of the top three domestic SUV manufacturers in China while Beijing Jeep, a joint venture between DaimlerChrysler and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., plans to launch a China-built Mitsubishi Pajero in March.

Zhengzhou Nissan is a joint venture between Zhengzhou Light Automobile Works, China International Trust & Investment Corp., or CITIC, and Nissan Motor. France's Renault SA holds a 44.4% stake in Nissan.

The Zhengzhou Nissan joint venture is separate from a $1 billion company set up in 2002 by Nissan and China's third largest automaker, Dongfeng Motor Group Corp.