How Big Is Big? Nissan Hires More Workers For Sprawling Tennessee Plant

Nissan announced Thursday its hiring 900 workers for its Smyrna assembly plant, to start work this fall. The automaker also noted their 30th anniversary of building cars in Tennessee.  The plant has grown dramatically, especially in the past few years, as Nissan tries to corner 10 percent of the American auto market.

Nissan's assembly plant sprawls over nearly 900 acres in Smyrna. Nissan is adding more than 900 manufacturing jobs to support future production of the Nissan Rogue, marking the first time the Rogue has been produced in the United States. Image: Nissan North America

Nissan’s assembly plant sprawls over nearly 900 acres in Smyrna. Nissan is adding more than 900 manufacturing jobs to support future production of the Nissan Rogue, marking the first time the Rogue has been produced in the United States. Image: Nissan North America

When it opened in 1983, the Smyrna plant employed around 2,000  people. Now more than 6,000 work there, making one of the largest auto factories in the country. Japanese rival Toyota has the almost same number of workers at its Georgetown, Kentucky factory. But when it comes to who has the largest number of employees at one site, Edmunds.com analyst Michele Krebs warns against making comparisons.

“Because there are other places that have giant complexes that include power train and all that,” Krebs says. “I don’t know, it would be tough to absolutely say that unequivocally.”

Krebs says many suppliers have also set up shop inside Nissan’s Smyrna plant, which adds to the worker headcount. In the past year, the Japanese automaker has added a third shift. It’s also opened a paint plant and a facility that makes batteries for the all-electric Leaf. Nissan’s Rogue crossover SUV will start rolling off the assembly line this fall.

So, who’s the biggest?

Here’s a list of the largest US auto plants by worker headcount, according to numbers provided by the automakers.

  • Toyota-Georgetown, KY 6,600
  • Chrysler-Belvedere, MI 4,800
  • Ford-Louisville, KY 4,600
  • Honda-Marysville, OH 4,200
  • GM-Lordstown, OH 4,150
  • Nissan won’t give exact figures, but says more than 6,000 are employed in Smyrna. More than 5,000 work at the company’s plant in Canton, Mississippi.
  • By comparison, Hyundai’s manufacturing plant in Ulsan, South Korea has 34,000 employees. Company officials consider it the world’s largest auto factory.

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