The Clarion-Ledger, 3/5/9

Despite the failing national economy, Nissan on Wednesday affirmed plans to move forward with a $118 million plant expansion to prepare its Canton factory to build light commercial vehicles next year.

The company originally announced the initiative last year, but auto sales have dipped dramatically for Nissan and other auto manufacturers in the recession.

“As we announced this last year, nobody foresaw what was going to be happening in the world as far as the economy,” said Dan Bednarzyk, vice president of manufacturing at the Canton facility.

Michelle Krebs, senior editor at Edmunds’ AutoObserver.com, said LCVs could be a promising segment.

“We just don’t know how big that market is in the United States,” Krebs said, adding the full-size vans sold by Ford and General Motors have been dominate players in the U.S.

Nissan is a competitor in the LCV business around the globe, selling around 800,000 worldwide in 2008 – an 8 percent increase over the previous year. But the products built in Canton will be the company’s first effort to enter the U.S. market, a change the company hopes will provide an economic boost.