Nissan reacts with more Altimas, fewer trucks

2008 NIssan Altima Coupe
NASHVILLE -- Nissan North America Inc. will shift workers at its Canton, Miss., car and truck plant to build more Altima cars and fewer large trucks.

The automaker will add a third work shift to the Canton Altima production line in September and drop one of two shifts from Cantonís Titan pickup truck and Armada SUV line late this month.

Altima sales rose 43.6 percent in May to 34,428 units. Titan sales fell 55.8 percent to 2,163 units, and Armada sales dropped 52.1 percent to 1,212 for the month.

The additional Altima shift will initially yield about 2,000 more cars a month.

The move comes as automakers industrywide confront a dramatic drop in sales of pickups and SUVs and a steep rise in demand for various small and mid-sized cars. Toyota Motor Corp.ís North American manufacturing group also is believed to be studying a plan to build more Camrys at its Princeton, Ind., Tundra pickup plant.

Nissan has two U.S. plants producing the Altima. Its Smyrna, Tenn., factory builds the Altima sedan, coupe and hybrid. Production there will not be altered because the assembly line is in the midst of launching Nissanís new-generation Maxima sedan, a company spokeswoman said today.

She said Nissan also will revise a work schedule that only recently took effect. To respond to falling truck sales this year, the Mississippi plant switched from two eight-hour shifts five days a week to two nine-hour shifts four days a week.

The Canton truck line will work five eight-hour shifts a week.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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