Nissan used the celebration of its 10th anniversary in Canton to announce some further good news for the region: the Japanese automaker will begin production of the next generation Murano crossover at the Central Mississippi plant in 2014.
Introduced in 2002, the Murano has stood out as among the most distinctively styled vehicles in its class both inside and out, said Nissan in awarding the Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant the sourcing contract to build the next-generation Murano crossover.
A crossover is a vehicle built on a car platform that rides like one and yet has the features—such as higher seating and extra room—of a minivan or SUV, CNBC says. They accounted for nearly one of every four vehicles sold in the United States in 2010, according to industry reports.
Beginning in 2014, the Murano will be the eighth vehicle built in Canton and will require several hundred employees for production, the company says.
The new Murano will showcase a progressive crossover design, and the company will unveil styling cues for future Nissan crossovers on a concept vehicle debuting at the North American International Auto Show on Jan. 14. As Nissan’s flagship crossover, the Murano remains one of the company’s most important vehicles, Nissan says.
Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas, said during Thursday’s anniversary ceremony the Canton plant and the “Made in Mississippi” stamp has thoroughly met the company’s expectations.
“With the addition of this new model in Canton, Nissan is well on its way toward meeting our goal to manufacture 85 percent of the vehicles we sell in the U.S. right here in North America,” Krueger said.
Since it was established in 2003, the Nissan Canton facility has become a cornerstone of Nissan’s North American manufacturing operations. Over the past decade, Nissan Canton has grown from building one model to seven, including the award-winning Altima, the Armada full-size SUV, the Xterra mid-size SUV, the Titan and Frontier pickup trucks and NV commercial and passenger vans.
Proving their new found popularity, sales for crossovers in 2010 accounted for 24.5 percent of all vehicles sold, according to Ward’sAuto.com, a research group for the industry. Minivans were only 5.4 percent of sales while SUVs were just 6.8 percent.