By Gail H.M. Brown, Ph.D.,
Contributing Writer ,Jérémie Papin
Recently, Nissan Canton announced a $500 million investment in which its Vehicle Assembly Plant will become a center for U.S. electric vehicle (EV) production.
Before a crowd of employees, local and state officials, and a host of other Nissan team leaders, community leaders, invited guests, and the media, Chief Operating Officer of Nissan Motor Corporation, Ltd. Ashwani Gupta said, “It’s an honor to be here with you today to share some news about the future of the Canton Plant and Nissan of the United States.”
The $500 million is to transform Canton assembly plant to build all-new Nissan and Infiniti EV models beginning in 2025. Not only that, but the investment will also include the retraining and upskilling of nearly 2,000 jobs.
In a prior press comment, he emphasized that “Nissan is making a strong investment in Canton’s future, bringing the latest technology, training and process to create a truly best-in-class EV manufacturing team.”
The effort is a part of Nissan’s Ambition 2030 plan which calls for 23 electrified models for the Nissan and Infiniti brands globally, including 15 all-electric vehicles by 2030.
“[We] will truly showcase the best of Nissan and Infiniti,” Gupta expressed. He said the announcement marked the first of several new investments that will drive the EV revolution in the U.S.
Internationally, as part of its Ambition 2030, Gupta said that Nissan will invest $18 billion over the next five years. The company has already invested $13.5 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations.
He credited strong partnerships with state, county, and local governments, Nissan America, and most importantly, the “dedicated” employees, “their most valuable asset,” for making the Nissan–Mississippi relationship, a huge success.
Reiterating the essence of the history-making announcement, David Johnson, who served as program guide, said, “Wow! Two, not one, but two, all-new, all-electric models to be built right here in Canton, Mississippi.” Johnson is senior vice president, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management – North America.
Nissan America Chairperson Jérémie Papin told the Canton team, “I am so proud of you; what a great day it is. But what makes today even more special is we are just getting started.”
Gov. Tate Reeves compared the event to being at a national championship college game, “and we are winning every step of the way.”
“This $500 million capital investment would not have happened had it not been for the hard-working workers of this facility,” Reeves said.
“I could not be more excited to be here with you to thank each and every one of you for your efforts and to commit that we are going to continue to work together with your leadership team to make sure that Mississippi remains the best place not only in America but the best place on the globe to create jobs and to raise a family.”
Johnson echoed Reeves’ sentiment about the employees. “This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and unwavering commitment of the employees who call Canton home,” he said. “Let’s build this future together.”
One of those unwavering employees is Derek Polk, director of Operations for Paint and Fascia. “I have been here 19 and a half years; I’m one of the original employees,” Polk told The Mississippi Link after the press conference.
Regarding his reaction to the announcement, Polk said: “Obviously, we are excited. This is great for the future of Mississippi not just the Canton plant. The economic development, the job opportunities, the advantages, the growth and the future. This is a statement that Mississippi is a major player in the automotive industry.”
Andrew Tavi, senior VP for external affairs and sustainability, is also excited. He shared that the announcement really reinforces Nissan’s commitment to the statement of Mississippi, to Canton, and to the 5,000 hardworking men and women at this plant.
“It’s going to allow us to bring advanced technology, first of its kind to Mississippi,” Tavi said. “It’s going to allow us to train and upskill our employees so they can build the vehicles of the future. This announcement really facilitates Nissan Canton, not only being a key manufacturing center for us now, but also into the future. We are really excited about that.”
Canton’s Mayor William Truly told The Mississippi Link that the announcement is “extraordinary and amazing.”
“The new technology [to build] electric cars gives us an opportunity, particularly Canton, to become a part of this,” Truly said.
He is especially pleased that Nissan is willing to train Canton’s citizens in its Workforce Development Program.
“I am hoping that I can negotiate with Nissan to certainly include our high school kids who might be interested in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering. With this kind of development, this kind of futuristic era, we have to make certain that our high school kids (juniors and seniors) and our citizenry are involved in learning skills that will help them take care of themselves and take care of their families.”
Truly said Nissan’s being in Canton for nearly 20 years has had a tremendous impact on the county as well as the city.
“Particularly, we have a tremendous number of citizens who are actually hired by Nissan. Nissan gives a lot of scholarships to our educational system, and it has just been wonderful for us.”