Nissan factories in Smyrna, Decherd react to quake

Nissan factories in Smyrna, Decherd react to quake

April 8th, 2011 by Ben Benton in Business Around the Region

NISSAN IDLING

Nissan plants in Tennessee and Mississippi will idle for a few days this month while production operations are restored in Japan.

• April 8, 11 and April 18-21 - Decherd, Tenn., Smyrna, Tenn., and Canton, Miss.

• April 4-8 - Cuernavaca, Mexico

• April 11-15 - Aguascalientes, Mexico

Source: Nissan Americas

About 4,200 Nissan workers at two plants in Tennessee will be temporarily idled for six days this month due to the massive March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, corporate officials said.

Steve Parrett, spokesman at Nissan's Franklin, Tenn., headquarters, said Thursday that workers at the Nissan plants in Decherd and Smyrna will not work today, Monday or from April 18-21.

The deadly March 11 quake severely damaged the engine plant in Iwaki, Japan, which provides engines for Nissan's Japan plants. The plant in Decherd, which produces engines for American-built Nissans, will temporarily provide engines for the Japanese plants while Iwaki production is restored, officials said.

Reestablishing supply lines will take time, so until then, production schedules at some plants are being shifted, officials said.

On Thursday, an aftershock measuring 7.1 in magnitude - the largest temblor since the deadly March 11 disaster - rocked the east coast of Japan, but Nissan officials were unable to say whether it had any effect on the company's Iwaki plant about 60 miles southwest of the epicenter.

The impact of March's quake caused Nissan to curb production for six days at its 3,300-employee plant in Canton, Miss., and five days at plants in Cuernavaca and Aguascalientes, Mexico, Parrett said.

"We're taking some 'down-days' we had planned for later in the year and pulled them ahead to use them now when we need them," he said. The down-days, or nonproduction days, were in the production schedule prior to the quake and tsunami.

"We do plan to make these days up later in the year," he said.

Decherd residents aren't too worried, according to Decherd Mayor Betty Don Henshaw.

"I understand that they are closed X-number of days anyhow," Henshaw said Thursday. "I think everybody in this community feels bad about the Japanese situation. I think everybody understands how all these things have come about."

She said local residents' prayers go out for everyone affected by the Japan disaster.

Officials said in a release that Nissan is "now capable of resuming normal operations at all our Japanese plants except for the Iwaki engine plant," which brought the Decherd plant into play.

"Currently, we have been in production using remaining inventory of supplies," officials said.

For April, "the Decherd engine plant will supply certain engine components to Nissan's Japanese operations," officials said. "This will be a temporary support arrangement until full production is restored in Iwaki."

Nissan officials said partial production is expected resume at Iwaki in mid-April and the plant should return to full production by the end of the month.