Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) is offering a Voluntary Transition Program (VTP) to its technicians and salaried employees at its assembly plants in Smyrna and Decherd, Tenn. The plan offers employees an opportunity to receive a lump sum of $100,000 or $125,000, depending on tenure, plus medical and car purchase benefits.

“We feel this program is a good opportunity for employees wanting to transition to another phase in life,” said Bill Krueger, senior vice president, Manufacturing, Purchasing, Supply Chain Management and Total Customer Satisfaction, The Americas. “This will provide many with the financial means to take a step they otherwise might not have been able to take.”

Factors contributing to Nissan’s need for the VTP are:

Rising fuel prices and a downturn in the economy have caused a dramatic slowdown in sales of full-size trucks and SUVs. Nissan must adjust to the ongoing market conditions in order to remain competitive. As a result, the Smyrna plant is eliminating its night shift truck production, effective Aug. 11.

Nissan’s productivity at the Smyrna and Decherd plants always has been high, and gains continue to outpace low employee attrition levels. Through this program, employment levels can be reduced in a way that benefits the employees and meets the company’s staffing requirements for manufacturing.

The program spans three years. Employees can elect now if they would like to participate in fiscal year 2008, 2009 or 2010. The election period for 2008 ends Sept. 12. Employees also will have an opportunity to sign up again for the program in 2009 or 2010, however their benefits, although generous, will be reduced compared with levels if they sign up during the 2008 period.

Nissan employs about 5,500 hourly and salaried employees at its vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, and about 1,100 hourly and salaried employees at its powertrain assembly plant in Decherd.

Nissan offered a one-time program in 2007 that was well received.

“The marketplace is changing and Nissan’s North American manufacturing operations must change with it to remain competitive,” Krueger said. “We feel confident this program will position Smyrna and Decherd well to meet the objectives of our five-year business plan, NISSAN GT 2012.”

This plan does not affect employees at Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Canton, Miss. Earlier, Nissan announced that due to a market shift to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, it had eliminated one shift of truck production. The company also added a third shift of Altima sedan production. Both sites are recognized for manufacturing highly-rated, top-quality vehicles. For example, the hot-selling Altima, which is produced at both Canton and Smyrna, received the top ranking in its class earlier this year from a leading nationally-recognized consumer magazine.

Nissan's operations in North America include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program 2010, whose key priorities are reducing CO2 emissions, cutting other emissions and increasing recycling.