Nissan Spain Drops NT500; Truck Plant’s Fate In Air

Nissan Spain executive Alan Johnson says NT500 production is being terminated because sales of the truck didn’t justify the investment required to upgrade its engines to meet European emissions standards.

Jorge Palacios, Correspondent

February 21, 2017

2 Min Read
Union sources say NT500 production more trickle than torrent in recent years
Union sources say NT500 production more trickle than torrent in recent years.

MADRID – Nissan appears to be abandoning more than a half-century of building medium-duty trucks in Spain.

 

The Japanese automaker in December froze production of NT500 trucks at its plant in Avila province. Alan Johnson, Nissan Spain vice president-industrial operations, told employees in late January production was being terminated because sales of the truck didn’t justify the investment required to upgrade its engines to meet European emissions standards.

 

The plant continues assembling NT400 (formerly called Cabstar) trucks that are lighter than the NT500, but that operation is to end in the fiscal year ending in March 2020, putting almost 500 people out of work. Nissan plans to build 9,500 units of the NT400 at that time, compared with 14,500 in the current fiscal year.

 

The Avila plant opened in 1956 when FADISA, a Spanish company, built 2,000  Austrian-licensed Palten-Diesel light-commercial vehicles modeled after the Volkswagen Bus. Two Alfa Romeo-branded van models were added a short time later.

 

FADISA eventually was sold to Motor Iberica, which originated as a joint venture between Ford and farm-implements maker Massey-Ferguson. Nissan bought into Motor Iberica in the late 1970s, acquired a controlling share in 1980 and took over the truck maker in 1987.

 

Among the truck models built at the Avila facility were the Nissan Atleon from 2000-2013, a cabover with a gross vehicle weight of 6-8 tons.

 

In February 2014 the Atleon was renamed the NT500 and Nissan set a production goal of 100,000 units a year. But union sources say only about 7,000 units of the NT500 have been built in the past three years.

 

Nissan says the end of NT500 production will have no “immediate” effect on employment, but it hasn’t determined the fate of the plant beyond 2020, the Spanish newspaper el Economista reported.

 

“Nissan is conducting an in-depth study on the future of the Avila plant, which it plans to complete in the coming months,” el Economista quoted Johnson as saying last month. “Throughout the process the company will continue to show an open dialogue with employees, their representatives and the rest of interested parties in Spain.”

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