"We are ready to make this car the top seller if the customer agrees."

Nissan started Job One production for the 2013 Altima sedan at its Smyrna, Tennessee plant today.

Nissan has big plans for the fifth-generation Altima, which was the number-two selling car in the United States in 2011. The company is adding a third shift at Smyna, and shifting models around between this plant and its Canton, Mississippi plant with an eye toward the Altima passing the Toyota Camry as the top-selling model in America.

Toyota sold 308,510 Camrys last year, compared with Nissan's 268,981 Altimas.

"We haven't built and designed this car the way we have, and made all these changes with a goal of being number-two," said Nissan Americas vice chairman Bill Krueger. Krueger admits that the consumer will vote on whether the Altima becomes the top selling car. "But we are ready to make this car the top seller if the customer agrees."

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam chimed in on the rivalry. "We are going to give the folks down in Georgetown [Kentucky] a serious run for the money," said Haslam, speaking of Toyota's plant in the neighboring state.

Nissan definitely has the capacity to pass the Camry, as it builds Altimas at two plants.

Krueger says he is not willing to cut and slash profit margins to chase the top-seller number for Altima. Nissan has long been more aggressive in incentive spending than its Japanese rivals in large part because it does not have the brand cachet and reputation for durability and quality that Toyota and Honda have.

Nissan built 570,000 vehicles in the U.S. last year and is adding a third shift to Smyrna. Nissan executives, however, won't pinpoint what total capacity is for Smyrna and Canton for competitive reasons. But it definitely has the capacity to pass the Camry's sales, as it builds Altimas at both plants.

Driving impressions of the 2013 Altima are embargoed until May 25, but we are allowed to tell you about a new feature we think is pretty cool. The tire pressure monitoring system not only tells the driver specifically what tire is low, but when you inflate each tire to the ideal, manufacturer-specified level, the car's horn sounds. Pretty neat, huh?.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yawn. Double yawn.
      Mr. Sunshine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Based on style, the Ford Fusion 2013 takes the cake.
        The Great 1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mr. Sunshine
        I whol heatedly agree. This is cool too, but I think it has some real feminine cues.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mr. Sunshine
        The truth is downgraded. Imagine that on Autoblog. lol
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nissan = the Ford of Imports. Green jacket, blue jacket, who gives a sh**?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why did Nissan decide to make it look like a long wheel base Versa?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Let's see what happens when the 2013 Accord comes out...
      • 2 Years Ago
      i find the build quality of Nissan too be poor. i hope that a pproves
      • 2 Years Ago
      Go Nissan! Now I wish they would release some info about the new forthcoming Altima Hybrid...
      • 2 Years Ago
      It deserves it; much more stylish exterior and interior, and (based on history) should have a much better ride. Quality and reliability wise, almost all cars in this class are pretty much the same these days.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Saw this at the NY Auto Show...it's an exercise on boredom. Should do well with Camry buyers.
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      Pro: It's less bland than the Camry Con: It's still very bland.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The trim around the radio looks soooooooo CHEAP. It looks like it would get so dirty so fast
        • 2 Years Ago
        Wow; so this is the biggest issue you find in this model? That's great comparing to Camry and Accord then!
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    2015 Nissan Altima
    MSRP: $22,300 - $32,350
    2014 Nissan Altima
    MSRP: $22,170 - $30,820
    2013 Nissan Altima
    MSRP: $21,760 - $30,560