When former Gov. Lamar Alexander convinced Nissan to move to Tennessee, he promised it would be a boon to the state’s economy. He was right.
The Japanese automaker opened its first North American plant in Smyrna in 1983. It announced in 2005 that it was moving its North American headquarters from suburban Los Angeles to Franklin.
In addition to the headquarters, Nissan now has three plants in Tennessee, including the one in Smyrna, which makes more vehicles than any other plant in North America and can produce 640,000 autos annually, says Lloryn Love-Carter, a spokeswoman for the company. The company also has two powertrain plants in Decherd.
The Smyrna plant produces the Nissan Altima, the all-electric LEAF, the Maxima, Pathfinder, Rogue and INFINITI QX60.
And Tennesseans like to drive Nissans. While it’s true that the Ford F-150 pickup was the most popular vehicle sold in Tennessee last year, the Nissan Rogue crossover and the Altima sedan came in second and third in terms of Tennessee sales, Kelley Blue Book reports.
The Smyrna plant currently employs about 8,000 people, Love-Carter says. The two powertrain plants in Decherd, she adds, have about 2,000 workers between them.
– Sheila Burke