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First Nissan Maxima Rolls off Smyrna Plant Line; Governor Bredesen Drives ``Job 1'' Flagship Sedan.

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SMYRNA, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 21, 2003

The Nissan Maxima sports sedan changed its home address today as the first production model rolled off the line at the automaker's award-winning manufacturing plant here.

Sporting a bold new look, as well as a number of design innovations, the "Job 1" 2004 Maxima sedan was driven out of the plant's pre-delivery area during a midday celebration by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Emil Hassan, Nissan North America senior vice president, manufacturing, purchasing, quality and logistics.

"The addition of this vehicle to our lineup today writes a whole new chapter for our manufacturing operations in North America," Hassan said to a packed house of Nissan employees, local and state government officials and the media. "Our employees are excited to build on the quality and workmanship which has made the Maxima a perennial favorite with consumers. We're ready to meet the challenge of manufacturing this truly great car."

The 2004 Maxima will go on sale at 1,100 Nissan dealers nationwide in March.

"Tennessee is proud to be home to the new Maxima," Governor Bredesen said. "Nissan's employees in Smyrna and Decherd should be congratulated on a job well done. The new model is a testament to their dedication and hard work. Plus, it drives great."

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander also spoke at the event, while local and state dignitaries joined the gathering to celebrate the vehicle's launch.

In keynote remarks, Hassan noted that the day's occasion kicks off an ambitious year of product launches for Nissan's U.S. manufacturing operations. This includes an engine manufacturing plant in Decherd, Tenn., and a second automotive manufacturing plant in Canton, Miss., that will produce the all-new Nissan Quest minivan, the Nissan Titan -- the automaker's first full-size truck -- full-size sport utility vehicles for both Nissan and Infiniti, and additional Altima sedans.

"Bringing the Maxima to the United States is key to our company's strategy of building cars and trucks closer to where they are sold," Hassan said. "Through a concerted effort of employees, supplier partners and countless others we are committed to build upon the Maxima's great heritage."

Another advantage, he reminded the crowd, was the fact that the Smyrna plant has consistently been cited as the most efficient automotive manufacturing operation in North America by the Harbour Report, an honor it has held for eight straight years.

Maxima, Nissan's flagship sedan, was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1981, essentially creating the mid-size import sport sedan category. Intended to combine aggressive styling with both power and performance, the car has since held the distinction of being the number one selling V6 import sedan. The sixth generation Maxima launched today -- the first of 75,000 Maximas to be built at the Smyrna facility annually -- will continue that formula, blending performance and luxury, Hassan said.

The car will be available in two models: a sporty 3.5 SE and a more luxurious 3.5 SL. Both are powered by the award-winning VQ 3.5-liter V6 engine -- cited for nine consecutive years as one of the "Ten Best Engines" by Ward's Auto World magazine -- which will produce 265 horsepower and 255 ft.-lbs. of torque.

The all-new Maxima has increased all major interior dimensions from those found in previous generations of the car. Its wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer (increased from 108.3 to 111.2) and its width has increased 1.4 inches (from 70.3 to 71.7). The trunk will also be larger, increasing 0.4 cubic feet (from 15.1 to 15.5).

Nissan's new sport sedan will also bring a number of new innovations to market. One of them is a Skyview(TM) roof -- a single elongated rectangular-shaped glass panel that stretches from the front of the roof to the back. It comes equipped with sliding sunshades to block out the sunlight when desired. And for those consumers that want it, an elite edition of the car replaces the traditional bench-style rear seat with two independent bucket seats to give the vehicle more of a 2-door sports car-like feel.

The Maxima has a number of safety features as well. Front and rear crumple zones, standard dual air bags and side and roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags, as well as the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchors and tether system, are standard on all Maximas.

"I have great faith in our team's ability to ensure this newest generation Maxima lives up to its reputation as a true 4-door sports car, which has been earned over the past several decades," Hassan said. "Nissan North America is well prepared to continue the tradition that's in this vehicle."

Nissan's North American operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing.

Nissan North America Inc. has invested nearly $4 billion in its three U.S. manufacturing facilities. Maxima sports sedans, Xterra sport utility vehicles, Frontier pickup trucks and Altima midsize sedans are manufactured at the company's award-winning Smyrna plant. When fully operational in 2004, the Canton, Miss., plant will build Nissan Quest minivans (launching late May 2003), Nissan and Infiniti full-size sports utility vehicles, the full-size Titan truck and additional Altima sedans. The Decherd, Tenn., facility assembles all the engines for Nissan's U.S. manufacturing plants.

More information on Nissan and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com.

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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U6TN
Date:Jan 21, 2003
Words:946
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