Nissan executives have decided to end production of their Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet at the end of this model year. Lindsay Chappell at Automotive News has the info.
Nissan believed it had a chance to stimulate young consumers with a boxy subcompact that made up for reduced power with the promise of highway fuel economy topping 30 mpg. But the import never caught on, especially as Nissan in 2012 began rolling out redesigned traditional models with higher fuel economy, including the Versa, Sentra, Altima and Rogue. The Cube's peak annual volume came in 2010, with sales of 22,968.
After all the hemming and hawing, Volkswagen executives have indeed chosen Chattanooga as the manufacturing center for their planned sport utility vehicle. The company will invest $900 million — $600 million in Tennessee — and hire 2,000 people as part of the project. The first models are expected to roll of the line in early 2016. VW also will set up its National Research & Development and Planning Center in Chattanooga.
Michael Horn, head of Volkswagen of America, said the new, seven-passenger sport-utility vehicle will be "specifically designed for the American market," and become one of four core models for the VW brand in the U.S. along with the Passat and Jetta sedans, and the Tiguan compact SUV.
"Our dealers need those cars," Mr. Horn said in an interview.
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Leaders of the United Auto Workers say they plan to launch a local union for workers at Volkswagen's factory in Chattanooga, where it lost an organizing vote earlier this year. VW officials say there has been no formal agreement between the company and the union, which both have said they want to work more closely via a works council in Chattanooga.
From the Wall Street Journal's story on the UAW's plans:
The strategy raises questions about the long-term potential of a local union office that initially serves as a works council without bargaining rights. In theory, if that office grew large enough, management could recognize it as a bargaining unit for the purpose of contract negotiations, and any deal reached would apply to other workers, whether or not they were in the union.
Union officials have scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. today.
Nissan sold more than 125,000 cars in May, up almost 18 percent from the May 2013 number and among the industry's leaders for the month. The increase was led by the best-ever Mays for a number of models, including the locally built Altima and Rogue, and a record month in sales of Nissan's Leaf electric car. Sales of the group's Infiniti brand jumped more than 30 percent.
“Nissan started the month with strong momentum and rode an outstanding Memorial Day weekend to capture our best May sales performance in the history of Nissan in the U.S.,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president of Nissan Sales & Marketing and Operations. “It’s clear that our products are resonating with the public and car sales are heating up as we head into summer.”
Nissan is moving all worldwide production of its Murano crossover to Canton, Mississippi, and has asked contractor Kelly Services to recruit 500 workers. Ramped-up production is scheduled to begin this fall and will take the company's employment at Canton above 6,000 for the first time. Suppliers based in a new park nearby are expected to hire another 400 people.
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