It's Not Just Detroit

July 31, 2008

While Detroit's Big Three automakers may be struggling for their very survival, the domestic manufacturers aren't the only ones suffering from the current car market downturn.

The sharp slump in light truck sales have slammed hard two of the Japanese Big Three, including Toyota, which has already announced sharp cuts in pickup production, and Nissan, which is scaling back production of both pickups, like the big Titan, and its various SUVs.

And now, Nissan reveals, it is offering buyouts to 6,000 of the workers at its two Tennessee assembly plants. That comes as a shock in a state that has seen its automotive workforce rise rapidly, in recent years.

Some of those standing to be offered a buyout option could get packages consisting of up to $125,000 in cash, along with benefits like discount car purchases.

The move follows recent steps to bring capacity more in line with diminished demand. Among other things, Nissan will eliminate a night shift at one of the truck lines. But the automaker, like its Japanese rivals, has pointedly stressed that it doesn't plan any layoffs. Other than those who accept buyouts, the company plans to find alternative work for any excess employees.

Ironically, the tough news comes just a week after Nissan dedicated its all-new U.S. headquarters, located in a suburb of Nashville. It moved to Tennessee, two years ago, ostensibly to reduce costs and put its American corporate offices closer to its primary production center.

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