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NISSAN'S FIRST ALTIMA ROLLS OFF PRODUCTION LINE

NISSAN'S FIRST ALTIMA ROLLS OFF PRODUCTION LINE
    SMYRNA, Tenn., June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Nissan's first Altima rolled off the production line at Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation U.S.A. today during a company-wide ceremony here, marking the pinnacle of a $490 million expansion to bring a competitive mid-sized sedan into the Nissan lineup.
    About 800 employees representing their work groups and 100 Altima suppliers attended the noontime "Altima 1" event.  It was broadcast live over closed-circuit television to other NMMC employees and also over a satellite to other Nissan locations in the United States.
    Jerry L. Benefield, president and CEO, heralded the day as a major milestone for the company, adding that it illustrates Nissan's ongoing commitment to localize its operations.
    "This sedan -- designed specifically for the American marketplace -- represents Nissan's commitment to North America," he said.  "It's the culmination of our $490 million expansion project, making us the biggest auto manufacturing facility under one roof in the country."
    The new four-door sedan, which replaces the Stanza, joins Nissan's award-winning Maxima and Sentra in Nissan's sedan lineup.  It goes on sale this fall as a 1993 model and is expected in dealer showrooms in mid-September.  It will compete with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Taurus and other mid-sized sedans.
    The event was held on the plant floor and featured a 10-minute video on the company's history along with speeches from Benefield and Emil Hassan, vice president, Operations.  During a drawing at the end of the event, 12 employees won the use of a new Altima for the company's summer vacation, which begins next week.
    Benefield predicted that the sophisticated styling of the new sedan will make Nissan a major player in the biggest market segment of the auto industry.
    "Quality is built into this car every step of the way," he said. "All this attention to detail will make the Altima stand out from other vehicles in its class.  The Altima's distinctive styling is beautiful. It's innovative, responsive and has outstanding handling capability."
    He challenged Nissan employees to continue their commitment to success.
    "When customers drive an Altima, I want that drive to make it clear that the Altima is the best car in its class," Benefield said.  "I want them to say:  'I've got to have an Altima.'"
    Nissan's expanded Smyrna facility will produce all the Altimas sold in the United States.  The addition of the Altima to the Smyrna facility's lineup means that about 60 percent of vehicles that Nissan sells in the United States will be built in Tennessee.
    Hassan spoke to the crowd about the overwhelming dedication he saw from the employee launch team throughout the three-year project.
    "We have taken this project as a team from Day 1 to Job 1," said Hassan, who is the corporate project leader for the Altima and expansion.  "Now we reap the rewards of all our planning, testing and training."
    The Altima will benefit from significant investments in technology and training at the facility.
    Nearly $100 million has been invested in training for the Altima, both for training approximately 2,000 new employees while enhancing the skills of many current technicians who moved to new or different jobs as a result of the expansion.
    Another highlight is the Nissan-designed Intelligent Body Assembly System.  This system uses a computerized, flexible jig with an array of robots to perform the initial structural body welds on the Altima.  The body is then measured with lasers to check its dimensional accuracy, with any variances then fed back into the main computer.
    IBAS provides accuracy within 0.1mm at 154 critical body points, resulting in an extremely high level of structural rigidity and quality.
    The new Altima will also feature water-borne paint, and Nissan is the first facility to master the technology of completely spraying the vehicle with electrostatically charged water-borne paint.  The process results in a better-looking appearance and is much friendlier to the environment because fewer solvents are used.
    Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation U.S.A. represents an investment of $1.2 billion.  Its employees currently manufacture Sentra passenger cars and Nissan pickup trucks; assemble engines and rear axles; produce plastic bumper fascias; and provide stampings for the Nissan Quest minivan.
    With the addition of the Altima, the facility's annual production capacity has grown to 450,000.  Total employment in Smyrna will reach approximately 6,000 by the end of 1992.
    -0-             06/11/92
    CONTACT:  Bucky Kahl or Jan Read of Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation, 615-355-2228 CO:  NISSAN MOTOR MANUFACTURING CORPORATION U.S.A. IN:  AUT SU:  PDT ST:  TN -- DE006 -- X614  06/11/92
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 11, 1992
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