Nissan North America has commenced the production for the revamped 2013 Altima sedan, which the automaker hopes, will rival the family-sedan domination of the Toyota Camry. Nissan Americas Vice Chairman Bill Krueger disclosed that they did not put all of the investment into the vehicle and give it all of its excellent features "with an expectation to be No. 2."
The first 2013 model has rolled off the Smyrna assembly line in Tennessee. Krueger added that ultimately, the customer will be voting with their purchase whether or not the company sells more than anyone. For most of its 20-year lifespan, the Altima has lagged as the also-ran among family sedans.
However, in the months after the March earthquake in Japan last year, the vehicle jumped into the No. 2 spot within the segment. It surpassed the Honda Accord and trailing closely at the Camry. With both rivals currently seeking to recoup lost ground, Nissan intends to capitalize on the gains.
The redesigned 2013 model boasts of segment-leading fuel economy and car weight. However, other challengers are also in pursuit to get a bigger share of the mid-sized sedan segment.
Among these challengers is the big-selling Hyundai Sonata, as well as the three vehicles that are revamped for 2013 model year, namely the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord.
Krueger stated that product enhancements will sell the Altima. He also revealed that there are no plans to increase incentives, emphasizing that their "best foot forward" will be the product itself. Nissan is expanding plant capacity for the Altima at the Smyrna facility and at Canton production site in Mississippi.
The Canton site will be Altima's second production location in North America. Specifically, the Smyrna plant is adding 1,000 employees to implement a third production shift later in 2012.
Managers are also taking steps to boost assembly line speed in the Canton facility to add 20% more output. Krueger remained cautious regarding the number of Altima units which Nissan North America will manufacture in 2012 or is capable of building once the changes are implemented. The two facilities are highly flexible, capable of shuffling output from one model to another with minimal effort.