DETROIT- Nissan Motor Co said on Thursday it will invest $500 million to retool its U.S. assembly plant near Canton, Miss. to build two new electric vehicles, part of the Japanese automaker's $18 billion program to expand its electric vehicle fleet through 2030.
Nissan said it plans to assemble electric vehicles for its Nissan and Infiniti brands in Mississippi starting in 2025. The automaker said it aims to have electric vehicles make up 40% of its U.S. sales by 2030.
Nissan currently operates two assembly lines in Canton, one building light trucks including the Nissan Frontier and the other assembling Altima mid-sized sedans. The 19-year-old Canton complex employs 5,000 people. Nissan said it will retrain 2,000 workers as part of the new investment.
The automaker said the investment in Mississippi is "one of several" planned over the next five years to expand electric vehicle production in the United States.
Nissan Chief Executive Makoto Uchida and Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta have outlined plans to deliver 23 new electrified vehicles by 2030, including 15 battery electric models.
Nissan currently builds its compact Leaf electric vehicle at its complex in Smyrna, Tenn., which gets electric motors from a Nissan factory in Decherd, Tenn.
The Leaf, launched in 2010, put Nissan in the forefront of established auto manufacturers in the emerging electric vehicle market. But the Leaf, with 226 miles (364 km) of range, has been eclipsed in sales by Tesla's Model 3 sedan which has 358 miles of driving range per charge, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
(Reporting by Joe White; Editing by Stephen Coates) ((Joe.White@thomsonreuters.com;))