DECHERD, Tenn. -- When the oldest of the world's luxury brands partnered with one of the world's youngest to build a new class of engines in Tennessee, quality assurance was a prime concern.
To reassure both Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti, a rural east Tennessee factory turned to a Japanese concept called takumi.
Basic English translation: craftsmanship.
The plant borrowed a page from Nissan Motor Co.'s engine line in Yokohama, Japan, where four takumi master craftsmen literally hand-build and autograph every 3.8-liter, V-6 engine that goes into Nissan's $100,000-plus GT-R supercar.
But it was just a small page. Yokohama has modest needs -- to supply just 1,500 or so GT-Rs a year. Infiniti's year-old plant here is on tap to supply a swelling global demand for its Daimler-designed, 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engines.
The plant, built by Nissan to supply both Infiniti and its Renault-Nissan Alliance partner Daimler, has a capacity of 250,000 engines per year. The Decherd plant already ships its engines to the new Mercedes C-class production line in Vance, Ala., which recently notified Infiniti it would take every engine it could send. The plant supplied the global Infiniti Q50 production line in Japan as well as another Infiniti vehicle line in China. And later this year, Decherd will begin shipping still more of the four-cylinder engines to Japan, where they will be installed into Q50s that then will be shipped to the United States, offering the first four-cylinder option in the model here.
Company executives have not said so officially, but Decherd also is the logical source -- one might argue the only source -- for all of the engines that will supply Mercedes and Infiniti at a shared auto plant under construction in Aguascalientes, Mexico. That plant will need another 300,000 engines a year.