Industryweek 1336 Tavares

Nissan Shifting Rogue Production from Japan to Tennessee

Jan. 10, 2011
With the strength of the yen a serious concern, the automaker is pushing for localized manufacturing.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will move production of its Rogue crossover SUV from its factory in Kyushu, Japan, to its facility in Smyrna, Tenn., Nissan's top operations executive for the Americas said yesterday.

The shift, which will take place by 2013, will bring more than 100,000 units of production to the Smyrna plant, said Carlos Tavares, executive vice president and chairman of the management committee-Americas for Nissan.

The move is spurred by the recent strength of the Japanese yen relative to the U.S. dollar, Tavares said.

"The strong yen is a serious challenge for all Japanese manufacturers," Tavares told attendees at the Society of Automotive Analysts' (SAA) 2011 Automotive Outlook Conference in Detroit last night.

Carlos Tavares, chairman of the management-committee Americas for Nissan, speaks with reporters at the Society of Automotive Analysts' 2011 Automotive Outlook Conference in Detroit.
He noted that in 2007, one U.S. dollar was worth 118 yen; as of today, one U.S. dollar is worth 83 yen.

Nissan plans to reduce its exposure to the yen by increasing the "localization of our manufacturing base across the globe," Tavares said.

Nissan has six manufacturing facilities in its Americas region: three in the United States, two in Mexico and one in Brazil that it shares with Renault. The six facilities produced nearly 1.1 million cars and trucks in 2010, according to Tavares.

"Structurally, the bulk of our remaining volume came from Japan, which means we still have significant exposure to the yen," he said.

The automaker's goal is to increase localized production for its Americas region from 69% to 85% by 2015.

As part of the push for localized production, Nissan will shift production of its all-electric LEAF vehicle from Japan to Smyrna, Tavares said.

"In 2013, we will also be able to produce 150,000 Nissan LEAFs and 200,000 lithium-ion battery packs at our factory in Smyrna," he noted.

In 2010, Nissan increased its market share in the Americas region, which encompasses North, South and Central America, from 6.6% to 7.2%, according to Tavares. Nissan has been the No. 1 automaker in Mexico for more than a year and a half, boasting a 23.1% market share there.

In other Nissan news, Tavares told attendees at the 23rd annual SAA event that the automaker will return to the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit after a three-year absence from the show due to the recession.

"We plan to be more visible with our marketing and PR efforts in the coming year," Tavares said.

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