By Erik Schelzig, AP
NASHVILLE — Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. announced Friday it will add a third shift at a vehicle assembly plant in Tennessee, adding more than 800 jobs.
Gov. Bill Haslam made the jobs announcement at an economic development conference. Haslam said it’s the first time the plant will operate on three shifts.
“Nissan and Tennessee have enjoyed a long and successful partnership, and this announcement shows the strength of the company and the market demand for its products,” Haslam said in a statement.
Friday’s announcement brings the total new jobs added at the plant to more than 2,000 since the middle of last year. About 5,600 people currently work at the plant that first began production in 1983.
“Our investment in creating hundreds of new jobs demonstrates Nissan’s long-time commitment to our employees, Smyrna, and the state of Tennessee,” said Nissan Americas Vice Chairman Bill Krueger.
The Smyrna plant makes Nissan’s most popular car, the midsize Altima sedan, among other models. Production of the all-electric Leaf is set to begin at the plant in December, while assembly of the Rogue is set to come to Smyrna next year. That will mark the first time the small SUV is made in the United States.
Nissan’s American headquarters are located in Franklin, just outside Nashville. The company also recently announced an expansion of its engine plant in Decherd, Tenn., that also makes motors for the Altima. Nissan also has a U.S. plant in Canton, Miss.
The Nissan announcement is the latest positive news for the automotive sector in Tennessee. General Motors announced in August that it will add 500 jobs to make its new Ecotek at its Spring Hill plant, which is also slated to begin assembling the Chevrolet Equinox crossover and two other midsize models that have not yet been named.
Meanwhile, German automaker Volkswagen AG announced in July it would boost production at its Chattanooga plant by 30,000 cars next year with the help of about 1,000 new workers added this year.