Over the next two years, Nissan wants to double the number of cars it ships to other countries from its Smyrna assembly plant. That includes places where drivers drive on the opposite side of the road from the US.
In August, Nissan shipped 900 Pathfinder SUVs to Australia and New Zealand. Both are countries where cars drive on the right. Jeff Younginer manages the assembly line at the Smyrna plant. For his workers, he says the hardest part of building a right-handed car is actually driving it.
“That was probably our biggest challenge. People are used to driving a left-hand drive vehicle,” Younginer said. Workers drive each car through a series of checks and a spin on a test track, after leaving the assembly line.
Younginer says workers rotate through multiple jobs in an eight-hour shift. So, installing a steering wheel on the right side instead of the left isn’t a problem.
Cars going to Australia and New Zealand do require one other extra step. Before they’re rolled onto a container ship, the vehicles must be thoroughly rinsed down. That’s to keep any non-native insects or bacteria from hitching a ride down under.
Nissan’s Smyrna factory currently ships cars to 61 markets. Over the next six months, the list will grow to include Ghana, the Philippines, Israel, and Argentina.