Nissan Cuts 2009 Altima Production for North America

October 22, 2008
2009 Nissan Altima S

2009 Nissan Altima S

Detroit News reported that Nissan Motor Co. will be cutting production of its popular 2009 Altima sedan, built in its Smyrna, Tenn., and Canton, Miss., assembly plants. Steve Parrett, Nissan North America spokesman, explained that employees in both plants will take three successive Fridays off without pay: Oct. 17, 24, and 31. Parrett is unsure of how many workers this affects.

All three vehicles under the Altima nameplate are affected: Sedan, Coupe, and Hybrid. This move shows just how deep economic troubles run in the auto industry, as even a relatively healthy Nissan Motors is cutting back and trimming costs, or in this case responding to a lack of market demand. Thankfully, it's a far cry from the plants GM has been forced to close, but nonetheless it takes a toll on the American worker who is facing what many analysts are calling the worst economic situation since the Great Depression.

This news comes on the heels of Nissan's overtures toward acquiring a 20 percent stake in Chrysler, announced earlier today.

The third-generation Altima has been a highly successful vehicle for Nissan and a big boon to that automaker's turnaround in the beginning of this decade. Introduced for model year 2002, this Altima abandoned the cramped interior and frumpy styling of the second generation. Journalists were suitably impressed by the third-gen Altima's huge jump in size, comfort, and power, especially with fitment of Nissan's powerful and refined refined 3.5-liter version of its award-winning VQ V-6 (VQ35DE). The fourth-generation Altima, introduced for model year 2007, addressed journalist's qualms with interior quality, trim pieces, and fit/finish.

But has the Altima, which now has a longer wheelbase and more interior room than once big-brother Maxima, grown too large and heavy for a market that is rapidly downsizing? Where are Nissan's competitors for vehicles like the Honda Fit? The Euro-derived Nissan Versa is an awkwardly styled econocar that looks right on paper but has not resonated with Americans like the Honda Fit has.--Colin Mathews

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