By Sean McLain
DETROIT — Nissan Motor Co.’s chief executive said the company believes it will need to build a new plant in the U.S. in four or five years, when the car maker would be ready for another push to expand.
Normally, that plant would be built in any of the Nafta countries, “but in the current situation we are more inclined to invest in the U.S.,” said Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan’s chief executive, at the Detroit auto show.
President Donald Trump has pressured Japanese auto makers to build factories in the U.S. Last year, Trump tweeted “no way” to Toyota Motor Corp.’s plants to import Corollas to the U.S. from an under-construction plant in Guanajuato, Mexico. Last week, Toyota Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 +0.32% and Mazda Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204777714/delayed JP:7261 -1.09% said they would build a $1.6 billion plant in Huntsville, Ala. Toyota’s plant in Guanajuato will produce Tacoma pickup trucks, while the Alabama plant will focus on passenger cars.
Nissan’s /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 +0.29% plan comes as it eases off the U.S. market after years of rapid expansion. Sales have grown to around 1.5 million units, from one million units in 2011. That growth helped Nissan hit, and exceed, its target for U.S. market share, but it came at the expense of its profit goals.
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