Nissan is transforming its plant in Canton, Mississippi for the electric age. The company has pledged $500 million to remake the facility into its North American hub for electric vehicle production.
The plant has produced more than 5 million gasoline-powered trucks, crossovers and vans since it opened in spring 2003. Two decades later, the 4.7 million-square-foot site is being prepared to build electric vehicles.
By mid-decade, production will begin on the first of several battery-electric vehicles for the Nissan and Infiniti brands.
"Canton will be North America's electrification hub for the next five to six years.That's where we're going to bring in the new platforms, the new technology," David Johnson, Nissan North America's production and engineering boss, told Automotive News.
Obviously, Nissan is not a newcomer when it comes to building EVs, having launched the Leaf hatchback more than a decade ago. The Japanese automaker is determined to take the lessons learned from that venture and apply them to the new one, which is said to consist of competitive BEVs, both in terms of equipment and design.
Gallery: All-new Nissan and Infiniti EVs to be built in Mississippi plant from 2025
"They're all new platforms, new technology, and more connectivity," Johnson said.
Nissan will not turn Canton into an EV-only plant, at least not for now. The automaker will build EVs alongside the gas-powered Altima sedan on one of the factory's two assembly lines. The first EVs to be made in Canton will be two electric sedans, from 2026, followed by two electric crossovers in 2027 and 2028, according to a supplier production schedule.
Interestingly, when Nissan made the announcement regarding EV production in Canton, it said the first EVs would be made in Canton from 2025 – the information from the supplier suggests production has been delayed by about a year. We asked Nissan about the reason for the delay and we'll update the article when we hear back.
In order to accommodate production of these new models, Nissan must expand the plant's physical footprint for the assembly of battery packs and other components. Johnson declined to say when production at the Canton facility might go all-electric. "All new product ... that I've got visibility to right now in the Canton plant is EV," he said.
EV production trials are scheduled to start in late 2025 or early 2026, but EV production equipment will arrive as early as next year, giving technicians time to train. Nissan expects to retrain the 2,000 production employees on Canton's Line 2 affected by electrification.
The Canton plant currently operates at a little more than half its annual capacity of 410,000.