Nissan Australia snares secret parts supply deal

Nissan Casting Plant Dandenong

NISSAN’S Australian casting and parts business will make components for a top secret future model in a deal that will secure its future “well beyond 2020”, the carmaker says.

“Some people will tell you local manufacturing is dead,” said Nissan Australia chief executive Richard Emery. “I can tell you it’s alive and well here at Nissan Australia.

“Our manufacturing business is going from strength to strength,” Emery said.

“Nissan Casting Australia continues to run close to capacity to satisfy global demand.”

Nissan’s Dandenong factory – a remnant of the carmaker’s local manufacturing and engine-casting business that ran from 1980 to 1992 – currently employs 160 workers.

It exports more than 2.3 million castings and 25,000 vehicle accessories to countries including Japan, US, UK, Thailand, South Korea and Mexico. All up, Nissan says its casting plant reaps around $65 million a year.

“We’re quietly flourishing,” said Peter Jones, the managing director of Nissan Casting Australia. “Amid the turmoil that’s been reported about our country’s manufacturing sector, especially in the local automotive industry, Nissan’s been working away in the background.

“At the moment we employ 160 staff, but we’re recruiting for more. Right now we have 30 job vacancies,” Jones said.

“We’re currently running three shifts a day, seven days a week and we’ve been doing that for six months. But we’re about to become busier.”

The Dandenong facility forges parts for 38 different vehicles across Nissan, Infiniti and Renault, including six models sold in Australia; the Nissan Leaf, Qashqai, Pathfinder and X-Trail, Renault Koleos, and Infiniti Q50. Every casting made in Australia includes a small kangaroo embossed on the aluminum.

Ironically, Nissan’s positive announcement came only hours after Holden revealed plans to fast-track the redundancies of 270 workers at its Elizabeth plant in Adelaide.

But while the contrasting announcements show the mixed fortunes of Australia’s manufacturing industry, Nissan told Wheels it had been waiting to reveal the news of its new deal for months.

“We didn’t want to be dancing on anybody’s graves to be honest, so I’ve been dancing around the topic for a year,’ said Emery.

“We didn’t want to be seen to be taking advantage of other people’s circumstances, so we sat back a bit. But as it turns out waiting has been positive because since then we’ve gained some more business.”

But while Nissan plans to employ more workers, Emery said any expansion beyond that was unlikely. 

“There are some capacity issues,” said Emery. “We have lots of machines to employ people but we can only melt a certain amount of metal a day.

“We’re never going to absorb the number of people that will lose out of the Holden, Toyota and Ford position, but I think upwards of another 50, 60 or even 70 additional staff is where we might get to.”

Emery ended the interview by offering some sage advice for Holden, Ford and Toyota.

“Like us, decide what you’re good at, decide where you’ve got a competitive advantage and concentrate on that. That’s the best thing.”

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