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Nissan Rapidly Boosting US Production

Launch of new Murano bringing local production to 85%.

by on Dec.05, 2014

Jose Munoz, the CEO of Nissan North America, with the third-generation, 2015 Murano.

For its part, Nissan operates two major assembly plants in the U.S. The biggest is in Smyrna, Tennessee, a plant capable of producing up to 650,000 vehicles annually, and employing 8,000 hourly workers. The mile long factory produces the midsize Altima and the Leaf battery-electric vehicle, among other models.

About 400 miles to the southwest, Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi employs another 6,000 blue-collar workers. While production is lower than at Smyrna, the Canton factory is one of the most flexible in the American market, capable of production eight different models, including both car-like unibody vehicles, such as the Murano, and frame-based trucks.

As the first of Nissan’s new third-generation Murano crossovers roll into showrooms this month, buyers will find a lighter, more stylish and more fuel-efficient vehicle. But what only a few are likely to notice is that the new model also will be made in the U.S.

Nissan’s big assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi has become the new, global production base for the 2015 Murano – which until now had rolled off a Nissan line in Kyushu, Japan.

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“We want to localize more of everything we do,” noted Pierre Loing, the head of product planning for Nissan North America.

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Toyota Investing $500 Mil to Build Lexus ES in US

Lexus ES to move to Georgetown plant by 2015.

by on Apr.19, 2013

Coming at you. Toyota will be building the newly updated Lexus ES at its Georgetown, Kentucky plant.

Toyota Motor Co. is expected to announce Friday plans to invest more than $500 million in its Georgetown, Kentucky plant to move production of one of its Lexus luxury vehicles to the U.S. for the first time.

The world’s largest automaker already produces more than half of the vehicles it sells in the U.S. at various North American assembly plants. But it has, until now, limited production of its Lexus line almost exclusively to Japanese factories.  Though the RX crossover is now produced in Canada, the Lexus ES will become the first luxury model – and the 11th Toyota vehicle assembled in the U.S.

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Toyota is the last of the Japanese “Big Three” to move at least some luxury car production to the States. But like rivals Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., it has been hollowing out production in the home Japanese market due to concerns about exchange rates – as well as potential production issues underscored by the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that all but shut down the maker’s operations for much of the following nine months.

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Toyota Moving More Production to North America

Maker will maintain small “core” in Japan.

by on Aug.08, 2012

Toyota Motor Sales USA's top gaijin, Jim Lentz, revealing the A-BAT concept car.

Toyota expects to increase its already vast North American production network, a senior U.S. official revealed, adding niche products on top of the core vehicle lines that currently roll off an assortment of assembly lines in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The move comes as Toyota struggles to adapt to a changing world in which exchange rates now – and for the foreseeable future – make it increasingly costly to import vehicles from the home market, said Toyota’s top American executive, Jim Lentz.  Complicating matters, Toyota, like its competitors, have come to recognize how vulnerable Japanese operations are to disasters like the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the island nation in March 2011.

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But Toyota officials stress they will not completely abandon the company’s home base.

During a speech at the annual Management Briefing Seminars, in Traverse City, MI, Lentz declined to provide much detail, only noting that, “We’ll have additional announcements down the road as more of cars are designed, built, sold and serviced right here in North America.”

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70% of Japanese Cars Sold in U.S. Now Built in North American Plants

Japanese have created 407,000 U.S. jobs, says new survey.

by on Jan.02, 2012

Honda launched production of the latest Odyssey minivan at a plant in Alabama last year.

Nearly seven in 10 of the Japanese-badged cars, trucks and crossovers sold in the U.S. last year were produced on a North American assembly line, according to a new report.

More than a quarter century after the first Japanese transplant – a Honda factory in Marysville, Ohio – went into operation more than 400,000 jobs in the U.S. have been created by the Japanese, according to a new report by the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association, or JAMA.

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And that trend could continue.  With the yen stronger than ever, manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan and Honda are steadily shifting production away from the home islands.  Within the last several months Toyota has announced plans to begin producing several product lines, including the Sienna minivan, in the U.S. for export to Korea.  They had previously been produced in Japan.

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