updated 2/21/2006 11:57:11 AM ET 2006-02-21T16:57:11

Nissan Motor Co. said Tuesday that it will introduce four new light commercial models by the end of March 2008 to enhance its sales of buses, vans and small trucks.

The Japanese car maker, in which Renault has a 44 percent stake, has made the light commercial vehicle business one of the key areas in its three-year business plan that started in April 2005.

The four models will be among 28 new models that the automaker plans to roll out under the business plan.

Nissan may launch two more new models in the light commercial vehicle segment on top of the planned four new models, Andy Palmer, vice president of that Nissan division, said at a round-table meeting with reporters.

Under the three-year plan, Nissan is aiming for the light commercial vehicle business to double its operating profit margin to 8 percent and lift its sales volume by 40 percent to 434,000 vehicles worldwide by the fiscal year ending in March 2008, compared with the results in the fiscal year that ended in March 2005. In a bid to reach that profit goal, the company is working to reduce costs, Palmer said.

Nissan will also expand its sales markets to include Russia and North America, in addition to current markets like Japan and Europe, to boost sales volume, he said.

The carmaker will lift the ratio of the light commercial vehicle markets it covers to the overall global light commercial vehicle market to 69 percent during the business plan, from the current 45 percent, by the end of March 2008, he said.

Nissan will focus more on selling its products to partners on an original equipment manufacturing, or OEM, basis under which it manufactures products for partners that sell them under their own brands.

Palmer said the ratio of OEM sales to the company’s overall light commercial sales will exceed non-OEM sales by the end of March 2011, though he declined to elaborate.

In the latest OEM deal, Nissan said last Friday it will start supplying its light duty trucks to Renault Trucks SAS, a subsidiary of Swedish truck maker AB Volvo, in the first half of 2007.

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