This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.
NASHVILLE - Nissan is adding 900 jobs to start making the Rogue crossover SUV at its Tennessee plant, the Japanese automaker announced Thursday.
The new jobs are in addition to 800 positions added at the Smyrna plant last year, and will bring total employment at the suburban Nashville facility to more than 7,000. Hiring already is under way, and Rogue production is scheduled to begin this fall.
Building the Rogue in the United States for the first time is part of the Japanese automaker's plan to have 85 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. produced in North America.
Bill Krueger, Nissan's senior vice president of manufacturing, said in a news release that the new production "underscores Nissan's longtime commitment to our employees and expanding operations around the country."
This month marks the 30th anniversary of Nissan producing vehicles in the U.S. The plant in Smyrna built its first pickup truck in June 1983. It now makes Nissan's most popular car, the midsize Altima sedan, and the all-electric Leaf. It also produces the Maxima, Pathfinder and Infiniti JX.
Production of the Frontier and Xterra were recently shifted to Nissan's Canton, Miss., assembly plant.
Nissan's American headquarters are located in Franklin, just outside Nashville. The company also has an engine plant in Decherd, Tenn. Nissan's U.S. plants have combined to make more than 12 million vehicles.
Through May, Nissan sold 65,533 Rogues in the U.S., a 4.4 percent increase from a year ago. But the Rogue, with an aging design, isn't growing as fast as the market for crossover sport utility vehicles. That segment is up 14 percent through May, according to Autodata Corp.
The new production at the Tennessee plant will be of an all-new version of the Rogue.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam lauded the jobs announcement.
"I want to congratulate Nissan for their accomplishments over the last 30 years and the tremendous impact their success has had on the state's economy and the thousands of people they employ," he said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., helped recruit Nissan to the state when he was governor three decades ago by touting the similarities between Japan and Tennessee.
"When Nissan came to Tennessee we had high hopes, and 30 years later it has meant more than 7,000 good-paying jobs and the growth of an auto sector that now accounts for one-third of the manufacturing jobs in the state," said Alexander.