Nissan shifting Murano output to Miss. from Japan
NASHVILLE -- Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, following through on a vow to lessen the company's reliance on expensive Japanese manufacturing and compete better in North America, has ordered output of the Murano crossover shifted to Canton, Miss.
The shift is scheduled to take place during the second half of 2014 when the next-generation Murano is expected to go on sale.
Nissan, in a statement, said the move "will require several hundred employees for production."
Next week at the Detroit auto show the company will show a crossover concept -- the Resonance -- that signals future styling of the crossover.
The Murano will become the eighth model on Canton's plate and the third nameplate that Ghosn has shifted out of Japan in recent months. About 90 percent of Muranos are made at Nissan's Kyushu plant in southwestern Japan. About 70 percent of that plant's output was exported to the United States. The Murano is also assembled in China and Russia.
Nissan's factory in Smyrna, Tenn., has just started commercial production of the electric Leaf, which has been struggling to compete in the United States since Nissan began importing it from Japan in December 2010. This year, the Smyrna plant also will begin production of the Rogue crossover, which currently is imported from Japan.
"Nissan is well on its way toward meeting our goal to manufacture 85 percent of the vehicles we sell in the U.S. right here in North America," Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas, said in a statement.
The Nissan Resonance Concept -- featuring a hybrid-electric powertrain -- will be unveiled next week in Detroit and previews the next-generation Murano.
Photo credit: NISSAN
Japanese automakers have been building their high-volume U.S. sellers in North American since the 1980s. But the stubbornly strong yen is now vexing Japanese industry planners more than ever.
Ghosn also has promised to move production of Nissan Motor Co.'s luxury Infiniti vehicles out of Japan. It is unclear how far he wants to go on that issue, but the move already has begun to a limited degree.
Last year, Infiniti began building the new three-row JX crossover at the Smyrna factory. And last month the company said it will build a new entry-level Infiniti in the United Kingdom.
The company has additional sourcing plans in the works for Mexico. Nissan is constructing a $2 billion factory there and has not indicated what models it will build.
And even as construction on the new Mexico plant proceeds, Ghosn told reporters in November that he is contemplating another North American factory that would come on line in 2017.
Nissan dealers sold 51,675 Muranos in the United States last year, down 4 percent from 2011. But the company believes it can do better when it is redesigned for a new generation next year.
Nissan North America's U.S. market share fell in 2012, despite increased sales, as competitors Honda and Toyota surged in sales. The company closed the year with a combined Nissan and Infiniti market share of 7.9 percent, down from 8.2 percent at the end of 2011.
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