Nissan to build 2 new electric vehicles in Mississippi by 2025

Edward Ludlow and Gabrielle Coppola

Nissan Motor Co. will build two battery-electric vehicles for the U.S. market at a plant in Mississippi, marking the Japanese automaker’s deepest North America move to date in to a growing field of consumer EVs.

The plug-in battery-powered models — one under the Nissan nameplate and one for Infiniti — will start production in 2025, the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker said Thursday. Nissan plans to invest $500 million for technology needed for EV-specific assembly lines at the plant in Canton, which is just north of the state capital in Jackson.

“Today’s announcement is the first of several new investments that will drive the EV revolution in the United States,” Nissan Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta said in a statement.

Competition in the EV market is intensifying with U.S. legacy automakers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., as well as global giants such as Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp., pledging billions of dollars to catch EV market leader Tesla Inc. Alongside factory capacity and new models, there’s a rush to secure battery-cell supply and varying deadlines to comply with global emissions and clean-energy targets.

Nissan’s stock is up about 9.5% year-to-date in Japan, after declining less than 1% for 2021.

In November, Nissan pledged to invest 2 trillion yen ($17.4 billion) over the next five years to electrify more of its lineup globally. The target includes 15 new electric vehicles and an aim of more than 50% electrified sales by fiscal 2030. Its U.S. goal is a bit more modest, aiming for 40% of sales being fully electric by the end of this decade alongside other hybrid models.

Nissan Leaf sales in the U.S. rose 48.9% in 2021 to 14,239 units.

Nissan was an early-mover in the electrification movement, introducing the world’s first mass-produced battery-electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, in 2010. While the plug-in is a top-seller globally, its been outsold and displaced in recent years by cars from Tesla, which didn’t start producing its first mass-model vehicle until 2017.

Leaf sales in the U.S. rose 48.9% in 2021 to 14,239 units. Tesla, which doesn’t break out sales by region, delivered almost 940,000 EVs to customers globally. The EV is just a small fraction of the automaker’s U.S. footprint: Nissan sold almost 1 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, a gain of 8.7% from 2020. 

Nissan, along with industry peers in Japan, endured a tough 2021 with a shortage of semiconductors hampering growth and profitability.

As part of the investment, Nissan will retrain almost 2,000 workers. The plant currently employs 5,000 people and has produced more than 5 million vehicles since opening in 2003.