Friday, October 19, 2012

Nissan adds third shift at Smyrna

Despite slow sales of  electric vehicles, Nissan said Friday it has added a third shift at its assembly plant in Tennessee.
 Nissan Americas Vice Chairman Bill Krueger said the addition of 810 new Nissan manufacturing jobs in Tennessee in support of the company's growth and demand for its vehicles.
  The new employees will staff the new third shift at the Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant. The shift began operations earlier this week and it is the Smyrna plant has had a third vehicle assembly shift in its nearly 30-year history. Nissan has now added over 2,000 manufacturing jobs in Tennessee since mid-2011.
 "Our investment in creating hundreds of new jobs demonstrates Nissan's long-time commitment to our employees, Smyrna and the State of Tennessee," Krueger said.
  "The dedicated workforce in Tennessee continues to build high-quality vehicles that compete and win globally, and we're committed to ensuring this doesn't change."
 The recent addition of a third vehicle assembly shift at the Smyrna plant is part of Nissan's strategy to localize core-model production. By 2015, Nissan aims to have 85 percent of all Nissan and Infiniti products that are sold in the United States produced in North America.
 The Smyrna plant currently builds the Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti JX sport utility vehicles and the Nissan Altima and Maxima sedan, according to Nissan spokesman Justin Saia.
 Saia also said the Smyrna plant is slated to start building the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle later this year and the new version of the Nissan Rogue in 2013.
 Nissan began building batteries for electric vehicle at a new factory next to the Smyrna plant this year but has been relatively silent about its EV plans ever since sales of the Leaf went in to a tailspin this past summer.  The plant was built with the help of nearly $1 billion dollars in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy.
 The U.S. sales of the Leaf have dropped 27.6 percent so far this year and signs of distress continue to crop up throughout the fledgling EV business. Earlier this week, A123, the maker of EV batteries which had built a new plant near Detroit with help from the U.S. Department of Energy, filed for bankruptcy and announced it was selling its electric vehicle assets to Johnson Controls of Milwaukee, Wis.
  However, the plans for  electric vehicle production in Tennessee are moving forward,  Saia said.  Nissan currently builds the Leaf EVs sold in he U.S. in Japan.
"Nissan and Tennessee have enjoyed a long and successful partnership for more than 30 years, and this announcement shows the strength of the company and the market demand for its products," Bill Haslam said.
 "Nissan and our existing industries are very important to the state's economy and the citizens they employ, and I want to congratulate and thank Nissan on today's announcement and the new jobs it means for Tennessee," he said.
Nissan began production at the Smyrna Plant began in June 1983.  The plant has an annual production capacity of 550,000 vehicles and represents a capital investment of $2.5 billion.  With recent growth, employment at Nissan's Smyrna manufacturing facility exceeds 6,000 employees.


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