- Category: Green Transportation
11 Jan 2013
- Published on Friday, 11 January 2013 09:45
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The latest model of the all-electric Nissan Leaf begins production in the United States this year.
By assembling the 2013 model year Leaf at its manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee, Nissan is taking a step toward its goal to manufacture 85 percent of its U.S. sales volume in North America.
The company believes that, by manufacturing vehicles for the U.S. market in the U.S. and increasing local content, they will reduce exposure to fluctuations in foreign currency.
Nissan is currently the global leader in electric-vehicle sales with about 50,000 Leafs sold to date. Of this, a total of around 19,500 are on the road in the U.S.
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The Leaf’s assemble requirements are similar to the Altima and Maxima models, with which it will share existing manufacturing environment in Smyrna.
“By assembling the Leaf on our current Altima and Maxima line, we are able to reduce costs by using existing equipment," said Susan Brennan, Nissan’s vice president of manufacturing in Smyrna.
Pulling together the Leaf in Smyrna also has the added benefit of allowing the vehicles battery – a crucial component – to be easily assembled and delivered from Nissan’s newest battery manufacturing facility, which is right next door.
Last December, the auto giant launched a lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the Smyrna facility especially created to produce battery components for the 2013 Nissan Leaf and other future vehicles that Nissan could add to the portfolio.
The facility is capable of expanding to produce modules for up to 200,000 batteries annually, depending on market demand.
Nissan is the only automaker that manufactures its own electric vehicle batteries, while its Smyrna facility is the largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the U.S.
“We truly have localized U.S. manufacturing of the Leaf's major components across the board,” said Ms. Brennan.
By adding production of the Nissan Leaf and its battery at the Smyrna facility, around 300 additional manufacturing jobs were created in the U.S. to date. As battery production and Leaf assembly expand to accommodate demand, an additional 1,000 jobs could be created.
The construction of the battery plant and modification of the Smyrna facilities is equivalent to an investment of up to $1.7 billion when build to full capacity. The project was granted with a U.S. Department of Energy loan for up to $1.4 billion. – EcoSeed Staff