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The Sunday Q&A with Susan Brennan: Nissan continues making history

SMYRNA — Since joining Nissan in 2008, Susan Brennan hasn’t just been making cars. She’s been making history.

The vice president of manufacturing at the Smyrna plant has ushered in the all-electric Nissan Leaf, the Infiniti JX, a new paint plant and a battery plant. She’s revitalized the plant’s product line and ushered in another major milestone last week when the new Nissan Rogue became the plant’s 10 millionth vehicle:

When the 2014 Nissan Rogue rolled off the line last week, it marked the Smyrna plant’s 10 millionth vehicle. Where does this rank on the list of achievements at the Smyrna plant?

Brennan: Nissan’s U.S. manufacturing footprint in Smyrna spans more than three decades and includes a number of iconic Nissan nameplates such as Altima, Pathfinder, Xterra, Frontier and Sentra. For more than 30 years, the Smyrna plant has been building high-quality vehicles, and this week’s milestone serves as further testament to the flexibility, efficiency and talent of our dedicated workforce.

The 10 millionth vehicle came 30 years after the plant’s first vehicle, a white, compact light duty pickup truck, known as Job One, in 1983. Do you and other plant employees get nostalgic at times like these or are you too focused on the task at hand?

Brennan: When this facility opened its doors in 1983, it was a groundbreaking moment — bringing auto production to Tennessee for the first time. Since then, the Smyrna plant has been a force for economic development, creating thousands of well-paying jobs — and inspiring other auto companies and suppliers to follow Nissan’s lead and set up operations in the state. In that time, the plant has grown from a domestic manufacturer to a global player. The future is bright and the momentum continues as we add new products, jobs and investment to our U.S. manufacturing operations.

While Nissan has posted record sales numbers this year, particularly with the Altima, the Leafs have yet to find a mainstream market. What is the goal for the Leaf in terms of its popularity and what do you think it will take to convince consumers to make the switch to an all-electric car?


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