Nissan North America is to expand its engine assembly plant in Decherd, Tennessee, to produce crankshaft forgings for the engines it manufactures for Nissan and Infiniti vehicles built at the company’s two US vehicle manufacturing plants.

Some of the forgings will be exported to Nissan’s Aguascalientes, Mexico, plant for vehicles manufactured there.

The expansion – a forging plant to be built on the northeastern side of the current facility – will add 50,000 square feet to the existing plant. Construction will begin next spring with the forging process to start in late summer 2006. At full production, the new plant will produce a million crankshaft forgings annually.

The company will invest $US47.3 million to develop the new facility, which will require approximately 60-70 employees for its operation.

“Nissan was able to consider adding this new capability in Tennessee because of a number of reasons, including the competitive and positive business climate currently found in the state, evidenced by recent changes such as the governor’s support of workers compensation reform and a commitment to improving education in Tennessee, as well as the presence of a skilled, highly motivated workforce,” said Dan Gaudette, the head of manufacturing for Nissan North America.

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Opened in May 1997, the 960,000 square foot Decherd powertrain assembly plant can build 950,000 engines and 300,000 transaxles annually. It builds all the engines for the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles manufactured in the United States.

The forging plant, which will house a 6,500-ton forging press, will be located adjacent to the current engine machining plant and connected via a corridor.

“This addition will allow us to manufacture a key engine component next to where they’ll be machined and assembled,” Gaudette said. “This will allow us to better control transportation and inventory costs.”

Since Nissan built its first US plant in 1980, the company has invested over $4.5 billion in its three manufacturing facilities. The three plants combined employ approximately 12,000 employees.

Other Nissan operations in North America include vehicle styling and engineering.