JACKSON, Mississippi — Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s planned new $930 million light-truck plant, to be located near here, will bring the automaker's total North American capacity to 1.15 million vehicles.

Confirmation of the plant comes early this month, after the state gave approval to a tax-incentive package worth at least $295 million.

Additionally, Nissan will spend $1 billion over four years to upgrade its burgeoning Tennessee operations. The bulk will go to install tooling at the Decherd engine plant, where Nissan now assembles 4-cyl. and V-6 engines, taking capacity up to 750,000 units annually and adding output of a new DOHC V-8.

“Building the right products in the right markets is a basic ingredient to create a foundation for solid, profitable growth,” says Nissan President Carlos Ghosn of the new Mississippi site. “It will allow us to increase our responsiveness to the market, decrease our costs and reduce our exposure to currency fluctuations.”

Construction begins in April for the 250,000-unit plant that ultimately will employ 4,000 workers when fully operational in summer 2003. The facility will produce a full-size pickup and sport/utility vehicle (SUV) off the same platform, both of which are in development, plus a next-generation minivan to replace the Quest, which ends joint production with the Ford Motor Co. Villager at Avon Lake, OH, in 2002.

Nissan plans to introduce 22 new vehicles by 2003, 10 of them in the U.S. in addition to the three vehicles to be built in Mississippi. Insiders hint that in addition to the new Z sports car to be introduced at the Detroit auto show in January, a crossover utility vehicle likely will be part of the mix.

In the last six months, Nissan has gone from the brink of bankruptcy to a group net profit of $1.58 billion, the best six-month period in a decade. North America played a significant role in the abrupt turnaround, contributing 41% of the net profits.