Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co said it will add workers and start production of the Sentra compact sedan at its Canton plant in Mississippi later this year.
Adding Sentra production along with two previously announced vehicles by the end of the year will mean 1,000 more jobs at the plant, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said at an event held at the Canton plant.
Nissan officials said 400 of those jobs have already been added to prepare for production of the Xterra mid-sized SUV and the mid-sized pickup truck Frontier, which is starting in November.
Total employment at the Canton plant will rise to 4,500 by year’s end, Nissan officials said.
The move comes amid efforts already under way by the United Auto Workers union to organize the existing 3,900 workers at the Nissan plant.
The UAW, along with some Mississippi politicians and the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), early this month announced an effort to organize the Canton Nissan workers.
The Canton plant near the Mississippi state capital of Jackson is also the production site of Nissan’s best-selling Altima mid-sized sedan.
The Sentra will be the second all-new model to hit US dealerships in the next 15 months, Nissan said. Sales began a few weeks ago for the 2013 Altima, the first of those five new vehicles.
By the year’s end, seven different vehicles will be made at the Canton plant, which Bryant said was a “remarkable” accomplishment.
Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas, said that in 2011, 69 per cent of the Nissans sold in the United States were made in North America, and that by 2015, that figure will rise to 85 per cent.
Prior to the announcement on Thursday of the addition of Sentra production, Nissan had invested $2.06 billion at the plant, which opened in 2003. Krueger said Nissan will spend more than $20 million capital improvements at the plant to add the new production.
Production at Canton by next year will be 450,000 vehicles annually, up from the current capacity of 400,000, Krueger said.