It’s been just over 2 years since Nissan first started selling the Nissan Leaf. It’s also been a few years in the making for the Smyrna, TN Nissan factory.
The facility in Smyrna is the largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the United States and has just started production of the battery components for the 2013 Nissan Leaf production that will start early next year.
“Opening this U.S. plant is an important milestone in Nissan’s overarching strategy to foster sustainable mobility around the world,” said Carlos Ghosn, president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan is the current electric vehicle leader, with more than 46,000 Leafs sold worldwide, and they are making strides as one of the largest producers of electric vehicles and battery packs in the US.
The first batteries produced at the Smyrna, TN facility have just finished the necessary aging process and are ready to be charged up for the first time.
The state-of-the-art factory was built with expansion in mind. It is capable of producing up to 200,000 batteries annually and will serve as battery packs for the Nissan Leaf and for any future electric vehicles Nissan will offer (perhaps the e-NV200?).
Right next door to the battery plant is Nissan’s retooled vehicle assembly plant – it’s been updated to allow for production of the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf will be manufactured on the same assembly line as the Altima and Maxima, so volume can be adjusted as demand for the different models fluctuates.
The 2013 Nissan Leaf will receive a number of updates, but no announcements have been made on those updates yet (a list of Japanese 2013 model year updates has been released).
The upgrades to the assembly plant and the construction of the battery plant cost $1.7 billion combined. The project received a US Department Of Energy loan for up to $1.4 billion.