Nissan Begins Construction of New Automotive Complex in Aguascalientes, Mexico; Hosts First Stone Ceremony

-- Dignitaries and opinion leaders of the public and private sectors gather to participate in historic "first stone" ceremony.

-- The new automotive complex will be 2.5 times larger than the current complex (founded in 1982).

-- The first phase of project will include stamping, body, painting and final assembly facilities, as well as a supplier park and a proving ground.

-- An ambitious recruitment and training program aims to build a team of 3,000 that will kick-start Phase 1 of project by end of 2013.

Jul 09, 2012, 17:54 ET from Nissan Americas

AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico, July 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In a ceremony that fused Japanese and Mexican traditions, Nissan celebrated a historic milestone by setting the first stone of its new manufacturing complex in Aguascalientes. This is the third manufacturing complex in the country and the second in the state of Aguascalientes. The complex is the result of a $2 billion investment announced last January to increase manufacturing capacity needed to satisfy the high demand for Nissan vehicles in the domestic and international markets.

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The ceremony was attended by distinguished guests including: Felipe Calderon, president of Mexico; Carlos Lozano de la Torre, governor of Aguascalientes; Hidetoshi Imazu, executive vice president of Manufacturing at Nissan; Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas; Jose Luis Valls, president and general manager of Nissan Mexicana; and Armando Avila, vice president of Manufacturing for Nissan Mexicana.

More than 250 guests witnessed the laying of this first stone, which will bring to life one of the most ambitious manufacturing projects in Mexico's history.

The new complex will be located to the south of Aguascalientes, near the airport, and will be 2.5-times larger than the existing plant. During its Phase 1, it will produce 175,000 compact vehicles per year (B-platform). To achieve this goal, Nissan will create 3,000 direct jobs and generate approximately 9,000 indirect jobs. Furthermore, the complex will include a supplier park and a quality proving ground.

Phase I of this complex will be completed in a record time of 20 months and it will be operational by the end of 2013. Nissan´s expanded production will be supported by a network of suppliers based at the adjacent supplier park, as well as from other locations. Vehicles manufactured in Mexico by Nissan have 80 percent domestic content.

The first stone ceremony was performed according to the Japanese tradition of the Daruma, a votive figure without arms or legs, with moustache and beard, but with whitened eyes used as reminder and motivation to fulfill goals or ambitious tasks. According to this tradition, the right eye of the Daruma was darkened to establish the clear goal of finishing this construction in record time. When construction is finished and the first vehicles roll off the assembly line, the other eye will be painted as well as a symbol of the success of the project.

A time capsule was placed next to the first stone. It included memorabilia of the time, such as newspapers and coins, as well as photos of every single employee currently working with Nissan in Aguascalientes as a symbol of their role as founders of the next stage in the operation´s history. Cultural performances by a Japanese children chorus and Mexican folkloric dancers capped the ceremony.

"The magnitude of Nissan's commitment to this new automotive complex is without par. With this investment, we will be able to increase our manufacturing capacity from over 600,000 units per year, to more than 800,000 units by the close of 2013, continuing our record setting production rates in Mexico. And this is only Phase 1," said Armando Avila, vice president of Manufacturing at Nissan Mexicana. He added: "The challenge is enormous, but inspiring. We will achieve it because we are proficient in advanced production processes and can count on very skilled labor to deliver with top quality."

"The new Aguascalientes complex underscores the objectives set forth by Nissan´s global strategy, Nissan Power 88, including a target global market share of 8 percent. The increase of manufacturing capacity for an operation that has already proven its leadership, will enable us to deliver more innovative vehicles for markets that are clamoring for them," said Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas.

"What encourages me more is how you are working here with 'kokoro,' or spirit in Japanese. I think those who are working here in Aguascalientes have 'kokoro,' in your care for customer needs, 'kokoro' to improve yourselves to achieve higher levels of skills and technology and skills, and 'kokoro' to challenge difficult issues head-on. I hope this spirit will be handed down to the new employees being hired for the new plant so that it becomes of the top-performing plants in the Nissan world, like the current Aguascalientes and Cuernavaca plants," said Hidetoshi Imazu, executive vice president of Manufacturing at Nissan.

"This new manufacturing complex represents the most ambitious investment announced by any company, from any industry in recent times in Mexico. Without a doubt, Nissan is driving an era of leadership, definitely in sales, but also in manufacturing which is the backbone of our organization and will help us grow further in Mexico and throughout the region," said Jose Luis Valls, president and general manager of Nissan Mexicana. He added, "Beyond thanking Nissan for strengthening its commitment to Mexico over five decades, we must give credit to the more than 11,600 employees and millions of customers who have placed their trust on us and fueled our success," said Valls.

Carlos Lozano, governor of Aguascalientes, stated: "This first stone represents our commitment to work and collaborate with Nissan to ensure that this project, that Aguascalientes is sharing with Mexico and the world, drives growth and generates benefits for all productive sectors and thousands of families in our country."

Ongoing preparations for Phase I entail the recruitment and training of over 3,000 employees to ensure the highest manufacturing quality and productivity in record time.

51 years of history in Mexico
Nissan Motor Co. arrived in Mexico in 1959 as a vehicle importer. In 1961, it established Nissan Mexicana, S.A. de C.V. to import and distribute automobiles.

It was in May 12, 1966, when Nissan Mexicana started its car manufacturing operations at Ciudad Industrial del Valle de Cuernavaca (CIVAC). It became the first Nissan automotive plant outside of Japan. A second complex in Aguascalientes was founded on November 13, 1982, to produce, components and stamping and, as of 1992, vehicles.

Since then, Nissan´s manufacturing operations have expanded significantly with new projects such as the production of three models based on the new V-platform, the Nissan March, the Versa and a multipurpose vehicle to be announced at a later date.

To this date, both plants have produced jointly over 7 million units. In 2011, Nissan produced more than 600,000 units, a historic record for the domestic industry.

Also in 2011, vehicle export operations reached more than 400,000 units exported to more than 100 countries, a number that demonstrate the untapped potential that could be realized once the new facility begins operating.

Nissan Mexicana has led the Mexican market for three years in a row and reached 25.5 percent market share, with 117,824 unit sold so far in calendar year 2012 (January-June). This represents an increase of 18.2 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

About Nissan Mexicana

Nissan Mexicana, S.A. de C.V. is a subsidiary of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. established in Mexico in 1961. It has Corporate, Marketing, Sales, Manufacturing, Distribution, and Design facilities in Aguascalientes, Mexico City, Cuernavaca and Toluca. In 2011 it reached 50 years of operating in Mexico. It currently employs over 11,600 workers and employees. In 2011 it commercialized 224,509 vehicles in Mexico, with a market share of 24.8% (6.2 pp over 2010), and produced 607,087 units for the domestic and export markets. Nissan´s commitment to the environment is underscored by the Nissan Green Program 2010, which seeks to reduce CO2 emissions and recycling standards. Also, the ANDANAC/Nissan Foundation administers a Social Relief Fund for the construction of public elementary schools. Over the last 11 years, 65 schools have been built and equipped to benefit 31,480 underprivileged children in the country.

SOURCE Nissan Americas