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Made in America: Nissan

If you want to buy vehicles made in America, check out Nissan. It wears its made-in-the-U.S. label proudly. Not only are its two U.S. vehicle-assembly plants located in this country’s heartland, but in 2007 it relocated its headquarters from Los Angeles, California to a $177 million facility in Franklin, Tennessee.

Established in 1933 to produce Datsun cars, Jidosha-Seizo Kabushiki-Kaisha swiftly abbreviated its name to Nissan Motor Company in 1934. In the summer of 1958, it began exporting Datsuns to the U.S. Two years later, it formed its U.S division, Nissan Motor Corporation. By the summer of 1980, it had established the Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation U.S.A (NMMC). The first Datsun pickup truck rolled off the line at the plant in Smyrna, Tennessee in 1983, followed by the precursor to the Sentra in 1985. The company officially dropped the Datsun name in 1984, when it began marketing cars under the Nissan corporate name.

Today, NMMC operates four assembly plants in the U.S. Two assemble passenger vehicles and two build engines. In 2016, it built more than 55 percent of the vehicles it sold in this country in its U.S. plants.


NMMC opened its first plant in this country in Smyrna, Tennessee. It’s a 6 million sq ft., $6 billion plant located on 884 acres roughly 25 miles southeast of Nashville on I-24. Its workforce numbers around 8,400. NMMC’s second vehicle-assembly plant is the 4.7 million sq ft., $3.3 billion facility in Canton, Mississippi. Located on 1,038 acres about 27 miles north of Jackson on I-55, it employs a workforce of 6,400.


A record year, NMMC’s two U.S. vehicle-assembly plants built 1,007,321 vehicles in 2016, the first time annual production exceeded 1 million units. Of that number, 140,780 units were exported to other markets.

In 2016, NMMC built 645,515 Altimas, Maximas, Leafs, Pathfinders, Rogues and Infiniti QX60s at its Smyrna facility, the most production of any North American assembly plant. That year, the Canton plant turned out a total of 361,806 units of the Frontier, Murano, Titan, Titan XD and NV Cargo and Passenger Van.


To date, NMMC has built more than 15 million vehicles in this country. Additionally, its two engine plants, both located in Decherd, Tennessee, have built a combined total of 10 million engines. An engine rolls off one of its lines every 19 seconds. Of Nissan’s 22,000 U.S. employees, about 17,000 of them work in manufacturing. NMMC has never laid off an employee; it’s total annual payroll is $1.3 billion. More than 300 suppliers in 30 states sold $14 billion in parts and materials to NMMC in 2016.

In addition to the four assembly plants and corporate headquarters, the Nissan Technical Center North America, with 1,300 employees, is in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and the Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, with 1,100 workers, is in Irving, Texas.

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Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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