In the early 2000s, Nissan ran a series of “SHIFT” ads about how owning a Nissan can shift your perceptions and your life. Now, Nissan is doing their own SHIFT. They are making some significant production changes at the Smyrna, Tennessee plant due to rising costs caused by increased salary demands by workers and some materials shortages. Their future in Middle Tennessee is in the balance.
Almost 11 years ago, the first Leaf rolled off the production line at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. The company helped pioneer mass manufacturing of electric vehicles (EV) with that car. But times have changed. It has recently been announced that the new generation of Leaf will be manufactured in Sunderland, England, where the battery plant has already been moved.
“It was in 2013 when the automaker started producing the Leaf in Smyrna, Tennessee, a year after Tesla introduced the Model S to the market,” said an article in carbuzz.com. “The Leaf may be one of the pioneers of mass-market EVs, but it has not caught much attention, likely due to the lack of updates.”
The most recent news from Nissan is that they may pull all production of the Rogue out of the Smyrna plant if suppliers are not able to cut the cost of their raw materials.
According to an article on marklines.com, “At a January 11 meeting at Nissan North America headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, the company told suppliers it expects a “significant reduction” in the cost of parts for the fourth-generation Rogue, scheduled to begin production in late 2026…[They] asked suppliers for an average 20% cut in parts pricing on the next Rogue, with some asked to cut prices by up to 30%.”
Rogue is Nissan’s best-selling model in the United States. It is built in the Smyrna plant and in the one in Kyushu, Japan. Carscoops.com reports that while the Nissan plant in Smyrna also builds the Nissan Leaf, Murano and Pathfinder, as well as the Infiniti QX60, …Rogue is Nissan’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S., [so] it is arguably of the most [important] to the brand…Rogue accounts for almost 40% of total output.
As WGNS radio reported when they broke the story, Nissan…told suppliers it is considering moving U.S. production of the next-generation Rogue to Japan if it cannot lower its purchasing costs.
While they were able to cut costs by 18% by the end of 2023, demand by American workers for higher salaries caused them to put a large part of that savings into increased wages.
The Smyrna plant has an annual capacity of 640,000 vehicles, and it employs 6,700 workers. Currently, both this site and the one in Canton, Mississippi are producing at 52% combined capacity. They cut production by 6% in January due to decreasing sales.
Suppliers have been asked to provide proposals to Nissan by February 19, and decisions about the plant’s future are set to be announced at the end of the month.