Nissan kicks off 2016 Maxima production in Tennessee

The company has produced nearly 800,000 Maxima sedans in the US since the Smyrna assembly line began production in 2003.

Nissan is celebrating the start of production for its 2016 Maxima, built at the company's Smyrna, Tennessee, plant.

The factory has produced more than 790,000 Maxima sedans since Nissan began building the sixth-generation model in the US in 2003. Most were sold locally, but more than 60,000 units were exported to Canada, Mexico and overseas markets such as Israel and Puerto Rico.

Resurrecting the "four-door sports car" theme, the eight-generation Maxima features a redesigned body with a lower ride height and a stiffer chassis. The company has managed to retune it venerable 3.5-liter V6 to produce 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque, put to better use thanks to a lighter curb weight than the outgoing model.

The new Maxima will be built on the same line that assembles the Altima sedan and the all-electric Leaf. The company builds three other models at the plant, while the VQ-series V6 is manufactured an hour away at a plant in Decherd.

"When Nissan came to Tennessee more than 30 years ago, there were almost no auto jobs in the state," said Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd. "Three decades later, about one-third of our manufacturing jobs are auto related, auto suppliers have located in 80 counties, and our family incomes are higher."

Nissan is setting up for a big year, with redesigned versions of the Altima, Sentra and Titan arriving on the market. The company expects the refreshed lineup to easily surpass its 2014 sales record of 1.4 million units.

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