SMYRNA, TN—Production of the 2021 Nissan Rogue launched at the Nissan North America vehicle assembly plant here on schedule, despite pandemic setbacks.

The Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant team had just started their first week of production trials for the new model when the pandemic hit, shutting the plant down for three months, according to Jeff Younginer, the plant's vice president of manufacturing.

Unable to train technicians in person, the new model team recorded themselves building the vehicle. When the technicians began a staggered return in July, they learned the standardized assembly processes from written procedures and the instructional videos, something Younginer said Nissan will likely continue to use to augment training even after the pandemic.

“We really set a new benchmark for how we're going to launch vehicles going forward, and we're here today, on schedule, launching the vehicle,” says Younginer. “My hat's off to this team. They make me extremely proud.”

The Nissan Rogue is the brand's best selling vehicle. The Smyrna plant built more than 1 million of the Rogue's last generation, and Younginer said it is an honor to produce the next generation in Smyrna.

“It really shows the confidence and trust that the senior leadership in Nissan have for the Smyrna team to produce the most important vehicle in the lineup,” Younginer says. “So it's very good for us. Obviously, when you've got the highest volume vehicle along with five other vehicles, we've got a lot of production here ... it's a lot of responsibility, but a great team making it happen.”

Nissan North America's Smyrna plant is the highest-volume assembly plant in Nissan North America with an annual production capacity of about 640,000 vehicles. The plant employs about 7,000 people and produces the Nissan Altima, Maxima, LEAF, Pathfinder and INFINITI QX60 in addition to the Rogue.

The plant will continue to manufacture its other five car models while producing the Rogue, three models on each line. Technicians send about 80 cars down each line every hour, amounting to about one car every 40 seconds.

The 2021 Rogue crossover has a heavy focus on technology, featuring a wireless cellphone charger and three digital displays, including a display that projects speed and navigation directions on its windshield. It also offers a slew of safety features and assisted driving technology that adjusts to the flow of traffic and can increase or decrease speed according to speed limits and upcoming turns and intersections.