International Herald Tribune
NASHVILLE, TN — Nissan Motor said Thursday that it would move its North American headquarters to a suburb of Nashville, TN, from California.
Nissan’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn made the announcement in Nashville at the Tennessee State Capitol. The auto company, which is based in Japan, said it would spend $17 million on a new headquarters building in Williamson County south of Nashville.
The first Nissan employees will move from its current North American headquarters at Gardena, CA, next summer, Ghosn said during a news conference attended by Phil Bredesen, the Tennessee governor.
The main reason for the move was to save money, said Ghosn, who is known in the auto industry for his cost-cutting at Nissan and the French automaker Renault, where he is also the chief executive.
“The costs of doing business in Southern California are much higher than the costs of doing business in Tennessee,” he said.
Nissan’s North American headquarters has been south of Los Angeles since 1972, and it employs about 1,300 people there. The headquarters is only a short distance from the North American headquarters for its Japanese rivals Toyota Motor and Honda Motor.
Like those automakers, Nissan has been expanding its American manufacturing operations. Tennessee is home to more than 7,000 Nissan employees working at plants in Decherd, TN and Smyrna,TN while it also has a new factory in Canton, MS.
Along with those plants, Nissan has an engineering and design center outside Detroit, and it also has a design center in San Diego. Ghosn has been criticized by some veteran Nissan personnel for the move to suburban Nashville, which has been rumored for months. The company’s former president Yukata Katayama wrote to Ghosn saying that the move was a mistake. Along with moving its North American headquarters, Ghosn plans to move Nissan’s global headquarters from Tokyo to the nearby port city of Yokohama by 2010.
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