Nissan celebrates new headquarters

Nissan celebrates new headquarters

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:01 pm
By: AP

FRANKLIN (AP) — Twenty-five years after Nissan Motor Co. became the first foreign automaker in the South, its chief executive dedicated a new $100 million North America headquarters and said the company’s future on the road will be “electric.” Speaking to reporters after a ceremony Tuesday attended by Gov. Phil Bredesen, Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Nissan employees wearing commemorative T-shirts, Carlos Ghosn said the company working with its partner Renault is focused on making zero-emission, electric vehicles. Nissan has said the first electric models will arrive in the U.S. in 2010 and will be selling internationally in 2012. Ghosn said Nissan wants to “also be in the battery business” and that hybrids and other alternative fuel technologies are at risk of becoming outdated. Ghosn predicted Nissan’s 2009 auto sales will not increase from this year’s level. Nissan NA sold 106,921 vehicles in the fiscal year that ended in March — a 6.7 percent share of the market. “We are not working on one way of making electric cars. We are working on different ways,” he said. “It’s going to take some time before we decide how we are going to do it.” The design of the electric car has not been selected, but Ghosn said Nissan is “not proposing a boring car.” Nissan, however, must determine if the current appetite for small cars is possibly due only to the high cost of gasoline, Ghosn said. Ghosn also announced a regional “zero-emission vehicle partnership” with the state of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority to promote the vehicles. Nissan executives leading a tour of the new Nissan headquarters said it was primarily designed to provide maximum employee and energy efficiency. Rob Traynham, the Nissan executive who oversaw the construction of the building 20 miles south of Nashville, says planners didn’t start by saying, “Let’s make a building that looks cool.” The glassy, sleek, S-shaped structure just turned out that way. The 10-story building has sunshades with computer-designed blades to reduce glare and summer heat, an interior light harvesting system and employee discussion areas at open stairways connecting 460,000 square feet of offices. The goal is to save energy and foster collaboration. “When you do all that and the building looks great too, that’s a wonderful thing,” Traynham said. Nissan employees are moving from leased office space in downtown Nashville into the headquarters 25 years after the company became the first foreign automaker to build cars in the South by opening an assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn. Since then Nissan has added an engine plant in Decherd, Tenn., and another assembly plant in Canton, Miss. Nissan’s own facilities engineers, working with Gresham Smith & Partners of Nashville and contractor Skanska USA, developed the headquarters. “We really understand our employees and the way they work and how people interract with each other,” said Traynham. The building came in below budget and is expected to consume about 35 percent less energy than a traditionally designed building. Traynham said it’s too early to put a dollar figure on the projected energy savings. “The building is absolutely performing the way we expected,” he said. The employees aren’t the first to occupy the new site. A restored wetland on the 50-acre campus already has attracted new wildlife to move in, Nissan officials said. The Nissan headquarters is being dedicated while Tennessee officials are still celebrating Volkswagen’s announcement last week that it plans to build an assembly plant in Chattanooga. “We don’t look at it as sharing the stage,” Traynham said of Volkswagen’s announcement. “If it’s a great thing for Tennessee, it’s a great thing for us.” ——— On the Net: Nissan: http://www.nissanusa.com Published in The Messenger 7.23.08

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