Nissan launches production of redesigned flagship Maxima sedan at its large Tennessee plant

Markets Associated Press

Nissan has launched production of its redesigned Maxima sedan at a ceremony at the Japanese automaker's sprawling Tennessee plant.

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Nissan refers to the Maxima as its flagship, but sales of large sedans have been struggling in recent years.

They've been squeezed at one end by midsize cars that have become larger and more luxurious and on the other end by the increasing popularity of small SUVs.

According to Autodata Corp., Maxima sales dropped 6.5 percent last year, even as overall industry sales rose 6 percent.

Nissan has sold fewer than 60,000 Maximas annually since the year after the sedan was last redesigned, in 2009. By contrast, it sold more than 335,000 midsize Altimas and nearly 200,000 Rogue SUVs last year.

Nissan's Smyrna plant built 648,000 vehicles last year.