Japan's Nissan Motor Co said on Tuesday it will spend $600 million to upgrade its plants in Mexico and start making three new low-cost cars there, positioning Mexico as its supply hub for the Americas markets.


A visitor looks at a huge Nissan Motor logo at the company's global headquarters in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, November 4, 2009.Issei Kato/Reuters

The No.3 Japanese carmaker, which is in alliance with France's Renault SA, plans to start assembly of its Micra compact by early next year, then add a sedan and a multipurpose vehicle to the lineup by 2013, a spokeswoman said.

The Micra, available in Japan under the name March as well as in Thailand and India, will likely be priced at around $10,000, she said.

Nissan expects to produce 300,000 units of the three models per year in Mexico and expects 80 percent of them to be exported to other markets in the Americas, she said.

Nissan plans to assemble the new models at its plant in Aguascalientes in northern Mexico, where it currently makes the Tiida compact and three other models, while it may also make the new models at its plant in Cuernavaca in the south, she said.

The Aguascalientes plant has an annual capacity of about 350,000 units, while the Cuernavaca plant has the capacity to roll out 250,000 units a year, the spokeswoman said.

Shares of Nissan inched up 0.8 percent to 634 yen, outperforming the broader auto sector, which shed 0.5 percent.

(Reporting by Yumiko Nishitani; Editing by Michael Watson)