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Maxima production moving to Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nissan will move production of its flagship Maxima sedan to Smyrna, Tenn., in 2003.

The decision, published Thursday, is the final piece of a plan announced a year ago to invest $500 million in the Smyrna car and truck plant and to hire 1,000 additional workers.

When production of the Maxima begins in January 2003, Nissan will have U.S. plant capacity of 500,000 vehicles a year. At that time, the company will build the Altima, Maxima, Xterra sport-utility and Frontier pickup in Smyrna. The Maxima has been built in Japan.

Later that year, it will open a second U.S. factory in Canton, Miss., to produce full-sized pickups, SUVs and minivans and an expanded U.S. engine factory to build four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines for the lineup.

Emil Hassan — Nissan North America Inc.'s senior vice president for manufacturing, purchasing, quality and logistics — said U.S. production of the Maxima will require Nissan's local suppliers to invest another $50 million in capacity expansions.

The U.S.-built Maxima will represent a new product strategy for Nissan. In its effort to consolidate platforms globally, Nissan will merge the Maxima and Altima lines into a single platform.

Nissan expects to sell between 200,000 and 300,000 U.S.-built Altimas annually and at least 75,000 U.S.-built Maximas.

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