NASHVILLE -- Nissan North America is stepping up manufacturing cost reduction efforts as it expands its footprint in the hemisphere.
The cornerstone of the drive will be to bring down costs at Nissan's Canton, Miss., assembly plant, which Nissan wants to turn into a global export center in two years.
This month Nissan promoted the head of the Canton plant, Dan Bednarzyk, who has been with Nissan since 1985, to a new job involving operations in North and South America, with the title of vice president for total delivered cost.
Bednarzyk's task will be to bring down supplier costs, raw material costs, internal factory costs, labor costs and expenses related to vehicle and parts logistics.
Nissan declined to make Bednarzyk available to discuss the mission. But a company statement said the assignment "relates to the investment in Mississippi to bring down supplier costs."
Nissan is expanding in the United States, Mexico and Brazil. But in recent months, Canton's lineup has expanded to include the Altima, Sentra, Titan, Xterra, Frontier, NV commercial vans, and most recently, the Murano. Canton will replace Japan as the global production site for the Murano, supplying 116 countries.
To do that, Nissan wants a less expensive supply line, says Colin Dodge, Nissan Motor Co.'s chairman for the Americas.
Nissan has not made an official announcement about its investment plans for Mississippi. But the automaker intends to build three large new buildings on its Canton factory campus to house operations for several Nissan suppliers that currently ship parts from outside Mississippi.
The company has requested $100 million in state industrial bonds to finance the project.