July 19, 2011

Atlas Carries its Weight

Kyoto -July 19- In ancient mythology Atlas put the heavens on his shoulders, but Nissan's light commercial vehicle of the same name is holding its own weight in the small truck business.

Built in Kyoto at a factory that had stopped production 10 years ago as part of Nissan restructuring efforts, the compact cab-over-truck is a comeback tale that saw production relaunch in March.

That was just days before Japan was hit by twin disasters that shut down production across the country, but Atlas output quickly resumed and is seen hitting 400 units a month.

"Atlas output was impacted by the March 11 earthquake, but we were luckily able to get back on line soon, and we now can produce about 27 units in a single day," said Body Assembly Project Engineer Hideo Oonishi.

So far, nearly 2,000 units have been produced and Auto Works Kyoto expects output to exceed 4,100 this year.

Auto Works Kyoto pairs the Atlas with its bus production and conversion business, which staff says maximizes factory efficiency.

"Until recently we had done the micro-bus production only, but to produce the F24 Atlas, we needed to use space inside the factory where Sugawa Shatai, our partner company, was operating," said Manufacturing Specialist Norio Nakasone.

A single Atlas takes about 21 hours to make, with metal work followed by painting and trim and chassis fine-tuning.

Atlas is a global model, with plants in China and Spain tapped for overseas demand, with Nissan hoping to carry the weight of the world demand.