Yokohama, Japan – Nissan is considering adding a new auto plant to the United States to meet growing demand for electric vehicles, a top Japanese automaker said on Friday.
“We are not surprised to go for a third plant,” Ashwani Gupta, chief operating officer at Yokohama headquarters, told reporters.
Nissan Motor Co. now has two auto plants in US One, with Mississippi making Titan pickup trucks and Ultima sedans among other models. The other manufactures Smyrna, Tennessee’s Leaf electric cars, Pathfinder Sport utility cars and other models.
Each plant employs thousands of workers and makes millions of Nissan cars.
The third plant would not only be an addition line added to an existing plant but also a completely new facility, although it could be built as an extension of an existing plant, Gupta said. It will add a few thousand jobs to the area, though its realization will be a few years down the road.
“The importance of localization will increase year after year,” Gupta said.
Depending on the region, consumers may be motivated to purchase electric vehicles, and fluctuating foreign exchange rates may make local production more desirable, according to Gupta.
His comments came a day after Nissan announced profitability for the first time in three fiscal years, despite challenges to the overall auto industry arising from chip shortages due to restrictions on the coronavirus epidemic.
Nissan, an ally of France’s Renault SA, recorded a profit of 215.5 billion yen ($ 1.7 billion) for the fiscal year ended March, up from a loss of 448.7 billion yen in the previous fiscal year.
Gupta’s comments also reflect the growing shift towards ecological vehicles to support sustainable energy and transportation in the face of climate change concerns.
Gupta said Nissan, as an alliance partner, would probably support Renault in its recently emerged idea to spin off its electric vehicle division. But he made it clear that Nissan would not take similar action.
“It’s too early to say we go to one side,” he said.
Nissan’s products were more diverse because it had main markets in China and North America, in addition to Japan and Europe, he said.
Gupta declined to comment on what might be desirable for Nissan’s future leadership, insisting that special company committees were tasked with that task.
Carlos Ghosn, who has led Nissan for two decades, has focused on strengthening its corporate governance since his arrest in 2018 on criminal charges. Ghosn says he is innocent He was released on bail and fled to his ancestral homeland of Lebanon.
Takaki Nakanishi, an automated analyst at Jefferies, said Nissan’s financial results were in line with expectations, but he thought the goal of selling 4 million cars this fiscal year was conservative.
“We have the potential to increase the volume,” he said in a report.