Nissan is retooling its Canton, Mississippi, assembly plant to become “North America’s electrification hub” over the next several years. The automaker plans to begin building EVs in the US, starting with a pair of electric sedans in 2026.
New Nissan electric sedans will be built in the US
Since 2003, Nissan’s Canton assembly plant has produced over 5 million vehicles, and it will now become the automaker’s EV manufacturing and tech center to advance its transition as the industry goes electric.
The Japanese automaker revealed a $500 million investment last February to transform its Canton facility to build new Nissan and Infiniti EVs.
Initial plans called for two new Nissan and Infiniti EV models to be built at the facility, with production slated to begin in 2025. According to Nissan’s supplier production schedule (via Automotive News), the first EV models will be a pair of electric sedans starting in 2026.
In the following two years, Nissan will build a couple of electric crossovers. The plant has ample space for that growth. According to AutoForecast Solutions, the Canton facility is running at just over half its 410,000 annual capacity.
Nissan’s electric transition
David Johnson, Nissan North America’s senior vice president of manufacturing and supply chain management, is in charge of the plant’s transformation.
Johnson told Automotive News last week, “Canton will be North America’s electrification hub for the next five to six years.” He explained, “That’s where we’re going to bring in the new platforms, the new technology.”
Nissan, once considered an EV industry pioneer for releasing the LEAF in 2010 as one of the first mass-market EVs, has struggled to keep pace with Tesla and the industry’s rapid advancements.
It took Nissan over a decade to release its second EV, the 2023 Ariya electric SUV. Ariya deliveries began in the US in late 2022, and it is already outselling the decade-old LEAF through the first half of the year.
Nissan says its learning from its first-generation models and applying the lessons learned to its next-gen EVs. Johnson explained, “They’re all new platforms, new technology, and more connectivity.”
Upgrading Canton to become North America’s EV hub
The manufacturing strategy, according to Johnson, will be key. He said, “You adjust to the technology first, and then you figure out how to adjust everyone in the facility to that new technology, whether it’s product technology … or the manufacturing technology that comes with the vehicles.”
Nissan’s new EV platforms will help streamline production with more automation. The company says about a fifth of the trim and chassis work is automated with EVs, compared to just 6% to 10% with ICE vehicles.
Johnson has a clear message for the team – prioritize the EV line. He said:
It’s OK to be a little bit suboptimal in the last months of a particular vehicle or project’s life to [ensure] that we’re fully optimizing for the start of the next. You can’t shortchange the future while continuing to work on today.
Nissan is already preparing the facility. Although the assembly lines are not expected to arrive until next year, training the workforce is already underway.
The automaker is sending its top engineers and technicians from the Canton plant to Japan to learn the new vehicle tech and manufacturing processes using virtual reality and other software.
Next year, the crew will move from virtual reality to the real one once the assembly equipment is installed. Nissan is aiming for 40% of its total US sales to be electric by 2030.
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