The newest Nissan Altima rolled off the line in Smyrna, Tenn. today. It's been 20 years since the original model was made, and Nissan has sold 4.4 million Altimas since then. Technician Ronnie Cope has had a hand in every Altima model made. "When we started with the little four cylinder and few options you got. Now we've got everything, the V6, the handless control," said Cope.
Other major advances made in this latest Altima are "zero gravity" seats inspired by NASA, something called "Advanced Drive Assist Display" that serves up options like turn by turn directions and caller id, and new technology called "Nissan Connect" that supports hands-free text messaging.
"This is absolutely the most fun, the best product I have ever worked on," said Nissan Regional Product Manager John Curl.
The new Altima targets a best-in-class fuel economy of 38 mpg and that may impact today's drivers the most. "Gas mileage, it's a big plus for us. We were able to retain the horsepower that we've had," said Cope.
Nissan's Altima is the top-selling vehicle in the Nissan lineup and among the top selling cars in the U.S. Nissan leaders said this latest model is their most innovative ever. "Nissan wouldn't be where it is today in North America without Altima," said Vice Chairman of Nissan Americas Bill Krueger.
The 2013 Altima will arrive at Nissan dealerships in June. Its suggested retail price is $21,500. Tennessee's Governor Bill Haslam took his first look inside the car Tuesday and said it's a solid deal. "When folks like you like and work and raise your families here and make the most quality product in the world you make my job a lot easier," said Haslam.
"This is one that everybody really, really likes, and so I'm excited about it. I'm proud to be here," said Cope.
Tuesday's launch kicks off an ambitious year for Nissan, with five new models coming out in the next several months. Next up is the Nissan Pathfinder. Both the Altima and the Pathfinder have created hundreds of new jobs and are assembled in the United States, in Smyrna, Tennessee.
VIDEO Nissan Altima First