CANTON, Miss. (AP) -- Nissan North America is switching gears at its Canton plant, cutting a truck-making shift in favor of one to build cars.
The move comes amid rising gas prices and dropping demand for trucks in the U.S. Some of the 450 truck shift workers will begin moving into their new role June 23. The truck shift will end in July and new production should be at full capacity in September.
"It's one of those things that we'll keep monitoring, the inventory levels, the sales, and just adjust accordingly," Nissan spokeswoman Julie Lawless said. "The way we've built that plant, we're able to move quickly on volume changes."
The Canton plant will have three shifts building Altima sedans and one making pickups, minivans and sport utility vehicles after the change.
The additional shift will add about 2,000 Altimas a month to the 13,500 a month the plant has averaged since January. Production of Canton's larger vehicles should drop by about 2,000 to 8,000 a month.
The Altima's U.S. sales hit a monthly record in May and were up 44 percent over the same month last year to more than 34,000.
The plant will continue to produce both four- and six-cylinder Altimas. The majority of the new production, however, will be the more fuel-efficient four-cylinder models.
Other manufacturers are readjusting production. General Motors says it will close four truck and SUV plants by 2011 and Toyota slowed production of its full-size Tundra pickup at a Texas plant.
And Ford's F-series pickup is no longer the top-selling U.S. vehicle. It was beaten out in May by the Honda Civic and Accord and by the Toyota Corolla and Camry.