Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday it will build a $2 billion plant in Mexico to manufacture small cars, most of which will be sold in the U.S.

Nissan's new facility will be in Aguascalientes, near other Mexican plants. Nissan said the plant will open in late 2013 and be able to produce 175,000 cars per year. Construction will begin this summer. The plant will create 3,000 jobs, bringing the company's total workforce in Mexico near 13,500.

Mexico is a key engine for Nissan's growth in the Americas, said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Nissan, in a statement. Together with our new plant in Brazil, this new manufacturing facility in Aguascalientes is an important pillar in our strategy to ensure that Nissan has the capacity it needs to increase sales volume and market share across the Americas.

Nissan did not specify which small cars it will produce at the new Mexican plant, but the company already produces small cars like the Sentra and Versa in its other two Mexican facilities.

Nissan is looking to take advantage of growing demand in the Americas. By 2014, it will have opened a plant in Brazil. The Brazilian expansion aims to boost Nissan's growing market share in the U.S. Last year, it rivaled Toyota and Honda in total sales, growing 14.7 percent in the U.S. in terms of sales while Toyota and Honda both fell nearly seven percent.

This month at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Nissan unveiled the 2013 Pathfinder, a concept vehicle that is expected to be in production by fall. And Nissan will likely introduce a new version of its popular midsize Altima, which surprised by outpacing the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion in December 2011 sales.

I'm expecting Nissan to be much better, because now I get into my onslaught of product, Nissan North America vice president Al Castignetti said of his anticipation for 2012 in an interview at the Detroit Auto Show. We have a lot of product coming that I think the market is absolutely ripe for. Quite frankly, I'm looking for a big year.