NASHVILLE -- Nissan Motor Co.'s ambitions to build more cars and trucks in North America is bumping against reality: It is running out of room to build them.
The company declined to confirm or deny a Japanese press report last week that it intends to move its mid-sized Murano crossover from Japan into its plant in Smyrna, Tenn., starting in 2014.
The Murano, which is scheduled to be redesigned in 2014, has been selling at about 4,500 units a month this year. Nissan wants to fan sales higher with the next generation.
Moving the Murano to Smyrna would clearly be in keeping with Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn's zeal to minimize the high cost of manufacturing in Japanese yen on his balance sheet.
But additions to Nissan's two U.S. and two Mexican factories are coming fast and furious. The Murano, should it move to Smyrna, would be the fifth vehicle that Nissan would add to its North American production roster in two years, in addition to expanding production here for two other vehicles. And two more vehicles are certain to be produced in North America.
The company this year added the Infiniti JX to the production lines at Smyrna, a plant that already builds the Altima, Maxima and Pathfinder. This year, the plant will launch production of the electric Nissan Leaf and next year production of the Rogue crossover. By themselves, the Leaf and Rogue are scheduled to consume about half of Smyrna's 500,000-vehicle a year capacity.
But Rogue sales have been increasing since Nissan began tooling up Smyrna for the job. This summer, Nissan said it will also have to produce that model in South Korea to have enough to fulfill its U.S. dealer orders next year.