Hidetoshi Imazu said the Canton, Miss., plant has succeeded at implementing new Nissan production methods.
"Overall, in spite of everything else, we did quite well," Nissan Senior Vice President for manufacturing Hidetoshi Imazu said here last week at the Management Briefings Seminars.
Nissan launched five models in eight months at its $1.4 billion Canton plant.
Canton's rapid start will become the model for Nissan's expansion into markets worldwide, including China, Egypt, Thailand and India, Imazu said.
Launch speed was always a critical issue for Nissan as it built and started production at Canton.
The plant enabled Nissan North America to enter the full-sized pickup and SUV markets and re-established the company in the U.S. minivan market. But this year, when the plant's first three models showed up on the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, each ranked at the bottom of its sales segment.
The company has dispatched 200 Japanese engineers to the United States to identify and correct the problems.
One of the lessons learned, Imazu said, was that more training will be necessary. "We launched many new models in a short period of time," he said. "When you're dealing with a new work force, there's always the issue of training."
Imazu said Nissan took pains to simplify the tasks of the plant well before the work started.
"However, we found that we did not cover all the secondary problems that could occur, such as secondary scratches occurring on the body," he said.
Nissan wants to push rapidly into markets with both sales and manufacturing operations in order to meet a new three-year business plan that aims for a global sales increase of 820,000 units.
Imazu said Canton has succeeded at putting new Nissan production methods into practice, including synchronizing suppliers with vehicle assembly. One satellite building at the Mississippi complex houses the final assembly operations for 20 Tier 1 suppliers.