Nissan’s Biggest Supplier Will Soon Be More American Than Japanese

The Japanese Consul-General Motohiko Kato spoke at the expansion announcement in Shelbyville. Japanese companies have invested an estimated $14 billion in Tennessee, tracing back to Nissan building its plant in Smyrna. Credit: TN Photo Services

The Japanese Consul-General Motohiko Kato spoke at the expansion announcement in Shelbyville. Japanese companies have invested an estimated $14 billion in Tennessee, tracing back to Nissan building its plant in Smyrna. Credit: TN Photo Services

Nissan’s largest auto supplier will soon have a bigger presence in the U.S. than it does anywhere else in the world, including its home country of Japan. Calsonic Kansei North America is adding 1,200 jobs in Tennessee, primarily to keep up with U.S. production of the Rogue and Murano SUV’s.“Today’s announcement is probably the biggest in the history of our company,” CKNA vice president Bob Masteller says. “We – in the U.S. – will be the largest region within CKNA globally.”

The parts supplier has five U.S. facilities. It’s expanding the three in Tennessee.

Calsonic says it will spend nearly $110 million adding onto existing plants in Lewisburg and Shelbyville, which already employ roughly a thousand workers apiece. They will build dashboards, electronics and exhaust systems. New jobs are also going to Smyrna, where the supplier’s employees work inside the Nissan assembly plant.

Consul General Motohiko Kato – based in Nashville – says the Tennessee expansion shows Japan’s economy is getting healthier and companies there are ready to invest around the world.

“The Japanese business people are looking to globalize their operations here in Tennessee,” Kato said Tuesday. “As the automotive sectors continue to strengthen, we are in a great place for further expansion and improvement.”

Japan is already one of Tennessee’s top trading partners. Even before the Calsonic expansion, more than 33,000 Tennesseans work for Japanese companies.

CKNA expects the recent expansions will be completed around December 2015.

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