8:45 p.m. (Central Time) on 28 November, a yellow 2001 supercharged Nissan Frontier
4×4 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.