Nissan Motor Co. will move its Maxima production line from Japan to Tennessee, part of an expansion that will create 2,000 new jobs in the state.

A redesigned model of the Maxima, Nissan's top-of-the-line car, is set to roll off the assembly line in January 2003, the company announced Thursday.

The move is part of the company's strategy to produce cars close to the markets were they are sold, said Emil Hassan, Nissan's senior vice president of North American manufacturing.

Gov. Don Sundquist joined Hassan in making the announcement at the Capitol. He commended the Japanese-owned Nissan for its investment in Tennessee over the last 20 years, creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of spin-off industries.

Last year, Nissan announced a $1 billion expansion to its parts plant in Decherd that supplies its Smyrna plant, the company's only vehicle assembly factory in the United States.

Hassan said the Maxima move is part of that expansion, which will add 1,000 workers each to the Decherd and Smyrna plants over the next four years.

Nissan recently closed its 40-year-old Murayama plant outside Tokyo in preparation for moving more of its manufacturing to North America. At its peak, the company's flagship factory employed 5,000 people.

Carlos Ghosn, who became chief executive after French-owned Renault became a controlling shareholder in Nissan in 1999, closed the plant as part of a plan to return the company to long-term profitability.

Nissan shares were up 30 cents to $8.21 at midmorning Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.