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Nissan plans to build the Infiniti JX

Nissan Motor Co.’s assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn., will build the new seven-passenger Infiniti JX crossover next year, the chairman of Nissan Americas said Wednesday.

The move is part of Carlos Tavares’ mission of getting Nissan and Infiniti products out of yen and into dollars, but that will require the automaker to move some products around. Tavares also wants to buy more parts from North American suppliers.

The JX, which Nissan revealed earlier this week, will make the third new product planned for Smyrna, a plant that already had a full plate of vehicles to build.

Tavares announced in January that Smyrna also will take over production of the popular Nissan Rogue crossover, starting with a newly designed version in 2013. Additionally, Smyrna is already undergoing a $1.4 billion project to add production of the electric Nissan Leaf and its lithium-ion battery modules.

Nissan is claiming 300,000 units of Smyrna’s production capacity for the Rogue and Leaf alone. The company has not indicated what sales volume it expects for the large new Infiniti.

Speaking at the opening of the New York auto show Wednesday morning, Tavares said Nissan will move two other Smyrna models–the Frontier compact pickup and Xterra SUV–to its factory in Canton, Miss., starting in 2012.

Once the shift is complete in 2013, Nissan will build six models at each factory. Smyrna will produce the Rogue, Leaf, Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder and Infiniti JX. Canton will produce the Xterra, Frontier, Altima, Titan pickup, Armada SUV and the NV commercial van.

The plan is part of Tavares’ new mission to reduce Nissan’s exposure to Japan’s rising yen.

He said building the JX in Tennessee will help Nissan reach a new goal of locally sourcing 85 percent of the Nissan and Infiniti vehicles sold in the Americas region.

He said North American plants currently deliver only 69 percent of the company’s U.S. volume. Since last year, when the Infiniti QX56 SUV was redesigned and moved from Canton to a factory in Japan, all Infiniti models are imported from Japan.

“With today’s announcements, we remain on track to localize our manufacturing base around the world, especially in the Americas,” Tavares said. “This drive for balance and flexibility across our operations is essential to support our growth plans in the region.”

Nissan North America’s reliance on vehicles and parts built in Japan has been a drain on its earnings over the past two years as the yen appreciated against the dollar.

The new plan will make the JX the only Infiniti model produced outside of Japan.

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110420/CARNEWS/110429998#ixzz1K55Pccgk

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