Having previously said it would transfer production of the North America-only Rogue compact crossover from Japan to the market it’s sold in this year, Nissan is now moving the next generation Murano, a larger crossover, to its decade-old assembly plant in Mississippi in 2014.
Nissan currently produces the Murano in Kanda, Fukuoka Prefecture, in the southwestern Japan region of Kyushu. Output in 2011 was about 78,000 units, about 70% of which were exported to North America.
The controversially styled Murano was introduced in 2002. European sales were miniscule until a diesel version was introduced with a mid-life facelift several years ago.
“As Nissan’s flagship crossover, it remains one of the company’s most important vehicles,” the automaker said.
Nissan is greatly expanding North American car manufacturing towards its goal of 85% of local sales. Its Decherd powertrain factory in Tennessee last year added 90 jobs to make electric motors for the Leaf – which went into production at Nissan’s other US assembly plant in Smyrna, also in Tennessee this week – and a partnership with Daimler will produce 250,000 engines a year for both automakers at Decherd in 2014, creating up to 400 jobs. Next September, Leaf battery pack output starts in Smyrna, eventually reaching 200,000 a year.
The Canton plant recently added 1,000 jobs to make body on frame trucks as well as cars including the redesigned Sentra. Total Mississippi state employment alone is now about 4,500.
Canton began in 2003 with one model and now builds seven, including the Altima, Armada full-size SUV, Xterra mid-size SUV, Titan and Frontier pickup trucks and NV commercial and passenger vans.
US Murano output next year will require “several hundred employees for production”, Nissan added.
A concept crossover set for unveiling at the Detroit show on Monday (14 January) will, Nissan said, reveal styling cues for its future crossovers. The entry-level Juke, imported from Japan, is also sold in the US; the rest-of-world equivalent of the Rogue, on the same platform, is the Qashqai/Dualis, built mainly in the UK but also Japan and China.
Nissan Americas vice chairman Bill Krueger said: “With the addition of this new model in Canton, Nissan is well on its way toward meeting our goal to manufacture 85% of the vehicles we sell in the US right here in North America.”