By on December 12, 2011

Fuelled by Nissan’s decision to move the HQ of it’s Infiniti brand to Hong Kong, rumors of an impending  Chinese production of the upscale marque would not end. In November, while not denying the story out of hand, spokespeople in Yokohama indicated that announcements of Chinese production of Nissan’s luxury brand were premature. Today, China Daily has an interesting twist on the story:  A trucks-for-luxury cars swap.

Citing a Chinese Newspaper, China Daily writes:

As part of the plan, Nissan Motor, which makes commercial vehicles and passenger cars in a 50-50 partnership with Dongfeng, would stop making medium-to-heavy duty trucks at the venture, the Economic Observer said on its website, without identifying the source. Dongfeng would in turn back an option to make Infiniti as well as Renault cars at its existing venture with Nissan, it said.”

China Daily was unable to receive confirmation for the unusual trade-in.

Given a cooperative Dongfeng, Nissan should have no problem making high quality Infinitis in China. After all, if BMW, Daimler and Audi can do it, why not Nissan? In July, Carlos Ghosn had declared in Beijing:

“In addition to China being home to the largest volume facilities in the Alliance, it is also home to the best performing plants. Based on our global ranking system that measures quality of production and products, our plants in Huadu and Xiangyang rank first and second against 34 other plants in the Alliance.”

Dongfeng is owned by China’s central government. In the luxury sector government sales are key in China. But why the swap? A foreign company may only have two joint ventures in China. For a Chinese company, there is no limit to its promiscuity. In addition to Nissan, Dongfeng already has JVs with Kia, Honda, Renault’s rival PSA, and more. Why not simply add Volvo?

Update: On further checking, Reuters had reported a week ago that Volvo and Dongfeng plan a JV, and that Nissan would pull out of their current truck JV with Dongfeng. We don’t follow trucks. The only new wrinkle is that Infinitis and Renaults will be made.  Renault and Dongfeng have been together for years. The Infiniti story is months old. Book it as another Chinese fire-drill in a country with more than 100 carmakers.

Update to the update: Reliable contacts at Infiniti HQ in (still) Yokohama confirm that no deal has been struck (yet) for Infiniti production in China. They have no knowledge of the swap described in Chinese media.

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