Thursday marked a new area industrial milestone with the Infiniti Decherd Powertrain Plant officially opening and starting engine production, greatly increasing employment opportunities.
The plant — referred to as “Decherd No. 2,” adjacent to “Decherd No. 1” at 520 Nissan Powertrain Dr., which produces Nissan engines — showcases a $319 million investment and an estimated 400 new jobs once engine production reaches full capacity at 250,000 units annually.
Kyle Bazemore, Infiniti Communications senior manager, summed up his company’s investment in the area.
“It’s quite significant for Infiniti as we work to broaden our position as global player in the luxury vehicle marketplace,” he said.
Bazemore said the Infiniti plant also signifies another significant chapter for the company — the first engine assembly plant in the United States bearing its name. Beforehand, the engines were being produced by Infinity in Japan or Decherd No. 1 through Nissan.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and other dignitaries attended the Job One ceremony.
Bazemore said the governor’s appearance is a strong vote of confidence in the company.
“I think this really shows his reassurance in the good work ethic Tennessee has and his reassurance in our ability to build engines for the world market,” he said.
Haslam reflected on the landmark day.
“It’s a big day for Decherd. It’s a big day for Tennessee,” he said. “We look forward to a long profitable partnership.”
“This is just the beginning.”
The Infiniti venture is a partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG.
In addition to Haslam, Infiniti Motor Company President Johan De Nysschen and Gary Edwards, Powertrain Operations and Battery Plant vice president, presided over the opening celebration activities.
The first engine to come off the assembly line is a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline 4-cylinder. The engines will initially be used in European versions of the Infiniti Q50 sports sedan and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class assembled in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Around 200 new jobs have been added to date, with that number expected to increase to 400 once the plant ramps up to its full 250,000 engine annual capacity.
De Nysschen summed up his thoughts in a published statement about the plant being put on line.
“The opening of this new powertrain facility is an important step for Infiniti,” he said. “It is the first step of our manufacturing expansion that will include the start of vehicle production in China later this year and in Europe next year.”
He expanded his assessment further to the audience, totaling 300 employees, civic leaders and media representatives.
“We are very proud of the state of the art facility producing flawless equipment,” he said. “Product is at its core of revitalization.”
Construction of the ground-up $319 million, 310,000-square foot facility began in May 2012.
It incorporates a number of energy efficient design features, such as a heat-reflecting white roof and natural daytime lighting through use of a skylight grid.
Edwards provided his assessment to the audience.
“This is a historical event for this community,” he said.
Edwards explained his thoughts further in the published statement.
“In this new state-of-the-art facility, we are building on 17 years of powertrain experience here in Decherd — taking the best quality standards from Japan and Germany and combining those with our highly skilled U.S. workforce,” he said. “Our team can’t wait to get started.”
Infiniti Motor Company Ltd. is headquartered in Hong Kong with sales operations in about 50 countries.
The Infiniti brand was launched in 1989. Its range of premium automobiles is built in manufacturing facilities in Japan and the United States.
Production in China and Europe will start soon along with the expansion of the brand’s portfolio.
As the title partner and vehicle performance partner of Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Infiniti has a far-reaching technical collaboration with the formula one team, and Sebastian Vettel, its four-time World Champion driver, serves as Infiniti’s director of performance.