Nissan North America’s (NNA) powertrain assembly plant in Decherd, Tenn., celebrated its 10th year of production today. State and local officials and Nissan executives joined NNA-Decherd employees to mark a decade of growth and production success.

Since starting production on May 16, 1997, the plant has grown to become the largest engine plant in Nissan’s global production network. Today, 1,200 Nissan employees build 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder engines for all the Nissan and Infiniti vehicles built in the U.S. A small number of truck engines are also exported to Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Barcelona, Spain. The Decherd Plant has the capacity to produce 950,000 engines and 1.1 million crankshaft forgings annually. Beginning in the spring of 2008, the plant will add the production of cylinder block castings.

“Throughout its 10-year history, the Decherd Plant has proven that it’s a world-class operation capable of producing award-winning products,” said Bill Krueger, NNA senior vice president of Manufacturing, Purchasing and Supply Chain Management for the Americas. “The Decherd team has good reason to be proud of their accomplishments today. The growth of this plant has been based on a solid reputation for high quality work and proven capabilities. As we celebrate a history of achievement, we also look forward to what the future will bring as we compete in the global marketplace.”

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen commended the Decherd employees and the plant’s contributions to Tennessee: “This plant not only makes engines, but it is itself an economic engine in our state’s economy. Nissan and its employees in Decherd and throughout the state have been a driving force in the development of Tennessee’s automotive sector. I congratulate the entire Decherd team on 10 years of consistent growth.”

To date, NNA-Decherd has built more than 3.8 million engines. The plant is widely recognized for its award-winning 3.5-liter VQ V6 engine — the only engine named to Ward’s “10 Best Engines” since the list’s inception 13 years ago. The 1.2 million-square-foot plant is located on 998 acres in Decherd and represents a capital investment of approximately $683 million.

A History of Growth
Plans to build the original plant were announced on Jan. 18, 1991. Construction on the $30 million, 100,000-square-foot plant began in March 1995.

Before the engine plant opened for business, Nissan officials announced the plant would be expanded to add transaxle production. In February 1995, the company announced an $80 million investment to add 137,000 square feet to the original facility.
 
Production began with 200 employees on May 16, 1997. The plant’s first product was a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine for the Nissan Altima, which was – and still is – assembled at the vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn., about 90 miles northwest of Decherd. Transaxle production followed in April 1998 to support engine and transaxle production.

On July 20, 2000, the plant was expanded again to add 500,000 square feet to introduce machining and assembly for the production of V6 and V8 engines. The steady course of growth continued with a $48 million investment to add forging operations. Production volumes in Decherd increased with the addition of Nissan’s second U.S. vehicle assembly plant, in Canton, Miss., in May 2003.

At the ceremony to mark the start of crankshaft forging production on Sept. 6, 2006, Nissan announced a $34.7 million addition to begin cylinder block casting at the Decherd Plant. Construction continues on the casting facility, and production will begin in the spring of 2008.