It has been reported that Nissan Motor Co. has selected a central Mississippi site for a new North American assembly plant - with a possible cost of close to $1 billion. This development comes at a time when Asian automakers are enjoying a sales boom in the United States.

Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. is also scouting U.S. sites for its first North American assembly plant.

Nissan, partially owned by France's Renault SA, needs another U.S. manufacturing hub - largely because they have exhausted the skilled labor force in central Tennessee, where it has operated vehicle assembly, engine and transmission plants since the late 1980s.

Nissan have chosen a 1,000-acre site south of Canton, Miss.

Nissan will report preliminary six-month financial results on Oct. 30 and a formal plant announcement could come after the automaker reports final six-month sales and earnings on Nov. 20.

The Mississippi site could eventually employ up to 4,000 workers.

Analysts expect the plant to open as early as 2004 and build light trucks, including pickups, sport-utility vehicles or minivans.

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