Nissan continues to expand its manufacturing base in North American despite a devaluation of the Japanese yen, which is making it cheaper to produce vehicles in Japan.
With a goal of boosting local production climb to 85%, the maker will add the Nissan Rogue to the list of models assembled in North America, a move that will add another 900 American manufacturing jobs. The move will mark the first time Rogue has been produced in the United States. Previous models had been built in Japan and the announcement marks the 30th anniversary of Nissan opening its first U.S. assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.
“Our investment creates hundreds of new jobs and underscores Nissan’s longtime commitment to our employees and expanding operations around the country,” said Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Bill Krueger. “Our dedicated workforce in the United States continues to build high-quality vehicles, such as the Altima, Pathfinder and LEAF, which are driving growth with sales up a combined 70% in May.”
Since opening three decades ago, Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant has grown significantly from a facility focused on the local, U.S. market to become a major global export base for Nissan. In just the last year, Smyrna has added production not only of the Leaf battery-electric vehicle, but also of the lithium-ion battery packs used in the zero-emissions vehicles, noted Kruger.
The factory also launched production of the Altima sedan and will now add the Rogue, which goes on sale in autumn. Those are two of the five core-volume models Nissan plans to introduce over the next 15 months covering 75% of U.S. showroom volume.
The shift of Rogue production to the United States is part of Nissan’s broader strategy to localize production. By 2015, Nissan aims to have 85% of its products that are sold in the United States produced in North America.
Meanwhile, Nissan has seen U.S. demand for the Rogue grow from just under 100,000 units in 2010 to 142,000 last year. In May, Rogue sales reached an all-time high of 17,333 units.
Since the first U.S.-assembled vehicle, a white pickup truck, rolled off the assembly line in June 1983, Nissan’s manufacturing footprint has grown steadily. The combination of vehicle assembly plants in Canton, Miss. and Smyrna, Tenn. and a powertrain plant in Decherd, Tenn. have produced more than 12 million vehicles and supported more than 14,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States. Production at Nissan’s Smyrna and Canton assembly plants grew by more than 14% in 2012.
Nissan also operates two major production facilities in Mexico and is beginning construction of a third complex in Aguascalientes.