Nissan executive vice president Tadao Takehashi has told TheCarConnection.com website (TCC): "It's easy for us to expand capacity to 500,000" at the firm's latest United States assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi.

But the board member in charge of manufacturing stressed to TCC that the Asian automaker has "no plans in place and first wants to see how the market reacts to new Mississippi-made products, such as the Titan pickup. "Nissan suffered the problem of over-capacity in the '90s, and we don't want to repeat that," he reportedly stressed.

But The Car Connection commented that, based on how US consumers have taken to other new Nissan vehicles lately, many industry analysts believe an expansion at Canton is only a matter of time.

TCC said the Canton plant is currently Nissan's most advanced, though not its most efficient. In the US, the factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, holds that honour, though will clearly have to compete with the newcomer.

The Car Connection said Canton will be used as something of a blueprint for future Nissan plants, such as the joint venture assembly line due to open in Guangzhou, China, next year.

Noting that each Nissan facility reflects local needs and improved technology and processes, TCC said one thing they have in common is flexibility with the Kyushu, Japan, plant a good example, rolling nine different models off its two lines.

That is "key," the Nissan board member told the website, to surviving the increasing fragmentation of the global motor industry.

According to the Car Conection, suppliers play a critical role in Nissan's manufacturing operation with the products built there relying on built-up modules - as many as nine for each of some of the vehicles, such as the full-size Armada SUV. And some of those components are being produced right within the Canton plant's walls by key suppliers, the report added.

TCC noted that, at the same time, Takehashi cautioned, "suppliers are the most difficult part" in maintaining plant flexibility because they must be notified in advance should the car maker decide to shift the production mix at one of its plants and that could conceivably take several months, though in most cases, suppliers can adjust their own parts flows within a matter of days.

Asked by the Car Connection how Nissan decides on the best model mix, Takehashi said dealer inventories are the "barometer" of market demand.

TCC noted that American makers typically like to have just above a 60-day supply of unsold vehicles in stock, while some Asian brands, like Toyota, are happy with half that but, for its part, Takehashi told the website Nissan aims for a 52 or 53-day supply on most of its products.