It has been awhile since Nissan launched an eco car in Thailand after the successful March and Almera. A third one was recently confirmed for this year, and it’s the Note. Now, Sureethip La-Ongthong Chomthongdee, VP of marketing at Nissan Motor Thailand, has told Bangkok Post that the high-roofed hatchback will be launched in the first half of this year.

She said that Nissan – which was first on the eco car scene and has since produced over 500,000 eco cars in the first phase – is set to start production under the second phase eco car project in early 2017. For the second phase, Nissan plans to spend 6.86 billion baht to make 123,000 eco cars and two million auto parts annually at its Bang Na-Trat Road factory in Thailand.

The second phase of Thailand’s eco car plan promises even more affordable cars, with excise tax cut to 12-14% from 17% in the first phase. Launched in late 2013, the second phase drew applications from Mazda, Ford, General Motors, SAIC Motor-CP (MG) and Volkswagen, joining first phase companies Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Toyota. Mazda was first off the blocks with second phase production (with the Mazda 2), but GM withdrew in 2015.

The latest Note facelift with a range extender hybrid system was unveiled for the Japanese market in October. Called the Note e-Power, the JDM car adds on an electric motor to the equation. The petrol engine, a 1.2L three-cylinder engine, is not connected to the front axle, and merely powers the motor – it’s a unique system that you can read in detail here.

Nissan recently brought Thai journalists to sample the Note e-Power in Japan, and reports confirmed predictions that the hybrid powerplant will not make it to Thailand. Nissan is yet to test the e-Power system for global usage, but taxation and cost is the main reason why it won’t power the Thai eco car, which has to be affordable.

That will leave the Thai Note with just the HR12DE three-cylinder engine without the electric motor. It will be a familiar and proven engine for the market, as it currently powers the March hatchback and Almera sedan in the country. The 79 PS/106 Nm unit will be paired to a CVT automatic gearbox in the roomy five-door hatch, which will be cheaper than the Honda Jazz in Thailand as the latter is not an eco car.

Thai reports from Japan also note the possibility of active safety features being included in the Note eco car, such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. If so, it would be the first eco car to boast such kit.

You would think that Honda’s success with the Jazz might might tempt Edaran Tan Chong Motor into introducing the Note in Malaysia – which should fare well if priced right, as it’s a roomy and versatile car with relatively interesting design (the Nismo-tuned Note received huge attention on this website) – but despite official previews and local sightings, don’t count on that happening anytime soon.

GALLERY: Nissan Note e-Power


GALLERY: Nissan Note Nismo, pre-facelift