Nissan began production of the sixth-generation Altima at its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Sales of midsize sedans continue to sink but Nissan plans to invest $170 million in its Smyrna, Tennessee assembly plant to support production of the 2019 Altima. The announcement came as the company celebrated the start of production of the sixth-generation sedan at the Smyrna facility.

“Nissan’s continued investment in our manufacturing facilities underpins our commitment to building top-quality vehicles in the U.S., as well as our valued workforce and the communities where we do business,” said Heath Holtz, senior vice president, Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management and Purchasing, Nissan North America Inc.

Nissan’s investment was used to upgrade Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant and Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant with the latest manufacturing technology.

Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant is celebrating 35 years of manufacturing operations in 2018. The plant employs 8,400 people and has built more than 13 million vehicles since opening in 1983, with Altima accounting for nearly 4.6 million of those vehicles.

(Nissan cuts North American production by 20%. Click Here for the story.)

Senior Vice President Heath Holtz kicks off Altima production in Smyrna, Tennessee.

The Smyrna plant currently produces six models: Altima, Leaf, Maxima, Pathfinder, Rogue and Infiniti QX60. In 2017, Nissan Smyrna produced more than 628,000 vehicles, making it the highest-producing automotive assembly plant in North America.

The upgrades included, adding laser brazing system in the body shop that gives the flexibility to weld the Altima’s trunk lid, updating paint shop with a new polyurethane stone guard coat paint system that provides a more durable finish and including calibration equipment that helps ensure the reliability and functionality of ProPilot Assist technology, Nissan officials said.

“The new Altima sets a new standard for the sedan market, and we are ready to bring it to the road for customers,” said Holtz, who noted that over the years Nissan has invested more than $12 billion in the United States.

(Click Here for more about Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi taking the global sales lead.)

The Altima will include ProPilot Assist and introducing Safety Shield 360 with Rear Automatic Braking as well as enhanced driving performance, including available Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.

The first all-new Altima rolls off the assembly line at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee plant.

In addition, Nissan will offer two new engines in the Altima, including the company’s world’s first production-ready Variable Compression Turbo.

The new Altima will also offer more expressive design with lower, wider and more athletic proportions and a new open interior design.

(To see more about Nissan’s plans to add eight EVs, boost electrified sales to 1M annually, Click Here.)

Nissan, however, is launching the Altima at time when trucks and utility vehicles now account for more than 69% of all the vehicles sold in the United States during the first seven months of 2018. George Petersen of AutoPacific, said this week he expects sedan sales to continue to decline for the foreseeable future.

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