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Nissan suspends plants due to steel shortage

Nissan Motor Company, Japan’s second-biggest auto maker, said today it would suspend operations at three of its four domestic plants for five days each this month and next due to a shortage of steel.

The plants would normally produce about 25,000 vehicles over five days, including the newly released Tiida compact car and the Lafesta minivan, which is expected to go on sale next month.

Nissan, 44% owned by French car maker Renault, will halt work at one of two lines at its Fukuoka plant in southwestern Japan and will completely stop production at its Oppama plant in Kanagawa prefecture and the Nissan Shatai Co. Ltd. Shonan assembly plant, also in Kanagawa.

The plants will stop operations on November 29 and 30 and on December 6-8. The company said it planned to make up for the stoppages in January or later by opening the affected factories on days when they were scheduled to be closed.

“We didn’t foresee this much demand,” a Nissan spokeswoman said, adding the problem arose after the roll-out of a string of models since September, when it unveiled six new cars to be launched before mid-January.

Nissan, the world’s most profitable car maker measured by profit margin, had vowed to sell 3.6 million units in the 12 months to September 2005, 1 million more vehicles than it sold in fiscal 2001.

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