Nissan’s Infiniti Opens First Dedicated Plant – And It’s In Tennessee

The Infiniti engine plant in Decherd was built next door to the Nissan engine plant. Employees watched Thursday as their bosses stood with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and other officials to be photographed with the first engine produced at the plant. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

The Infiniti engine plant in Decherd was built next door to the Nissan engine plant. Employees watched Thursday as their bosses stood with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to be photographed with the first engine produced at the plant. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Executives and dignitaries marked the start of a new engine line in Decherd Thursday. The standalone building represnts a step out from the Nissan nest.

Infiniti has been trying to differentiate itself from its parent company, in part so its vehicles don’t appear to be just souped-up Nissans. The company recently opened an independent headquarters in Hong Kong. The new Tennessee plant making turbo-charged four-cylinders is another step in that direction.

“Having our own manufacturing facility is an important confirmation of the very exacting requirements that are part and parcel of achieving ‘Infiniti-ness,’” Infiniti Motors president Johan de Nysschen said.

“Infiniti-ness” has been hard to define since most of the vehicles are made on the very same assembly lines producing standard Nissan models.

Most of the first hires at the new Decherd plant previously worked next door at the Nissan power train plant. In all, the Infiniti facility is expected to create 400 jobs when it gets up to full capacity. The engine will be used in European models of the Q50. Mercedes also plans to use the engine as part of a joint venture to power the C-class sedans made in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Infiniti engine line does have a high-end flavor all its own.

For one, every employee has to tear down an Infiniti engine and rebuild it by hand over the course of two days. They work in a lab dubbed the Tukami room – loosely translated from Japanese as “craftsman.”

“We hope they understand how important every process out here is, not just theirs,” assembly manager Bobby Scoggins said.

In the Takumi room, every employee has to rebuild an Infiniti engine by hand before starting work on the assembly line. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

In the Takumi room, every employee has to rebuild an Infiniti engine by hand before starting work on the assembly line. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

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