Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn visits Nissan’s manufacturing facility in Canton, Mississippi, and speaks to the Global Media Center about the importance of the plant for Nissan’s business expansion in the United States.
Here’s the transcript of the interview as well:
This plant is home to 5,000 workers in the state of Mississippi. How does the Canton plant play into Nissan’s plan for business expansion?
Carlos Ghosn: It’s a very important plant for us. First, because it’s one of the pillars of the supply chain for the United States, and more and more it’s going to be the case for Americas with the development of passenger cars and pickup trucks.
The plant is going to be growing. The production level in 2011 has been higher than in 2010, and it’s fair to say that 2012 is going to see another improvement in production. And, very reasonably, I would consider that by 2013 the plant is going to be in full capacity, which is a great development.
We’re counting on Canton, not only in terms of a sustained supply chain of the Americas, but also as a plant at a very high level of quality, capable of always bringing products, like the Altima, as top picks of Consumer Reports. And, hopefully, bringing many other products that Canton is building presently to the top level of quality.
You mentioned quality, a pillar of Nissan Power 88. From your visit today to the plant, tell us a little bit about what you saw and the quality enhancement in Canton.
Carlos Ghosn: I’ve seen a lot of improvements. First, because I think everybody in Canton — at least all the people that I have met and I have met many of them — are really taking their job, in terms of improving quality, very seriously.
They are very conscious of the fact that one of the main objectives of Power 88 is strengthening our offering in terms of quality — strengthening not only the product quality but also the service quality and the quality of our brand.
I have seen a lot of initiatives taken at the level of the shop floor, in terms of processes, organization and training, tending to really position Canton at the top level. It was a lot of outside references — J.D. Power or Consumer Reports — so I was very pleased by this mindset that quality is our job, it starts here, it starts now and it starts with every single contributor at the level of the plant.
As you know the two body-on-frame vehicles, the Xterra and the Frontier, are going to be moving here to Canton in the near future. What do you think is the future for body-on-frame vehicles especially for the Americas region?
Carlos Ghosn: I think its important and there is a future for these kinds of vehicles in the Americas for the Americas market, and also for export.
One of the reasons for which today we are going to be bringing the pickup truck Frontier to Canton, is the fact that there is huge demand for our pickup trucks worldwide. We are in shortfall for pickup trucks worldwide, so trying to build more pickup trucks in Canton will help Nissan face the huge demand for pickup trucks that is showing today.
I think what I would like is for Canton to be a plant with many different products, capable of — depending on how the market will be going — building as many cars as possible with a reasonable diversity of products in order for the plant not to see any stop and go that we may have seen at the beginning of its development.
The NV commercial vehicle is also produced here in Canton. What can we expect for the commercial vehicle market here in the U.S.? We are new and we are growing, so what can we expect for the future?
Carlos Ghosn: This is a huge market and in this market we are very small. The initial development has been slow. But it has not been slow because the product was not good or the quality was still not stable. I think it is because we are just learning how to develop our sales in this market.
This is a market mainly based on fleet — mainly based on very specific customers, which is specific organizations, specific knowledge. So I think with time, this is going to be a great opportunity for Nissan in the United States, and for Canton.