At 8:45 p.m. (Central Time) on 28 November, a yellow 2001 supercharged Nissan Frontier 4x4 Crew Cab became the 5 millionth vehicle built at the Nissan North America manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, marking a major milestone in US Japanese automakers' 'transplant' production history.

Nissan's first US-made vehicle, a compact pickup truck, was produced on June 16, 1983. Since then, the Smyrna plant has also built Sentra and Altima (Bluebird-based) sedans, 200SX sports coupes and Xterra (Pathfinder-based) sport-utility vehicles.

For the seventh consecutive year, the Nissan manufacturing facility in Smyrna has been named as the most productive car and truck manufacturer in the United States, according to The Harbour Report 2000, an industry benchmark study.

"This milestone is remarkable in that we have built sedans, coupes, pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles at this manufacturing centre while maintaining high levels of efficiency," said Emil Hassan, NNA senior vice president of North American Manufacturing, Purchasing, Quality and Logistics.

In 1992, with the introduction of the 1993 model Nissan Altima, production volumes increased and plant space in Smyrna was nearly doubled.

In July 2000, Nissan announced a four-year, $US1 billion investment to expand its powertrain production facility in Decherd, Tennessee, and to maximise production capacity utilisation at the Smyrna plant. The annual production capacity in Smyrna is 500,000 vehicles.

On Nov. 9, 2000, Nissan announced a $US930 million program to construct an all-new vehicle assembly plant in Canton, Missouri, about 15 miles north of Jackson. Production there begins in 2003, and the Canton plant will have a capacity of about 250,000 vehicles annually.

With production in Smyrna, in Canton and in Nissan's two manufacturing plants in Mexico, the company's annual North American vehicle-making capacity will be about 1 million units.