MADRID – Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. forecasts passenger-vehicle production to rise 47% to about 84,000 units at its Barcelona plant in the coming fiscal year beginning April 1, but weak demand in the light- and medium-duty commercial sector could idle workers once again in Madrid.

Nissan Spain says it expects to produce 57,000 vehicles at the Barcelona facility in the current fiscal year ending next month.

The improved outlook for the coming year reflects strong demand for its trio of vans, codenamed X83 and marketed as the Nissan Primastar, Opel Vivaro and Renault Trafic. The auto maker built about 11,900 units more than planned in the current fiscal year.

Going in the opposite direction is the Avila plant near Mardrid, where Cabstar and Atleon commercial-vehicle trucks are built.

Union sources say some 300 of the 650 workers at the plant will be idled in yet another round of layoffs due to weak demand, particularly in Spain. The segments where the trucks compete are down 60% industry-wide from year-ago.

Union officials are worried the cuts ultimately could lead to Nissan Spain closing the facility, transferring production to a Renault SA factory in France.

Alfredo Castana, head of industrial and labor communications for Nissan Spain, declines to confirm layoffs are in the works at the Avila plant and denies there are any plans to close the facility.

“We ask the workers to be patient and to wait for the next meeting, where we will expose them to company projects for Avila plant,” he says.

Avila production reached a peak of nearly 30,000 light- and medium-trucks in 2007, but hit only 11,000 last year.

The current round of layoffs at the plant – the fourth in 18 months – expires March 31.