Nissan on May 26 broke ground on the project that brings Nissan LEAF production to the United States. The groundbreaking ceremony marks the start of construction on a manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn., that will produce the lithium-ion batteries that power the Nissan LEAF zero-emission vehicle. The all-electric Nissan LEAF will be produced at Nissan's vehicle assembly facility in Smyrna beginning in 2012.
Nissan LEAF and battery production will create up to 1,300 jobs when the plants are operating at full capacity. The battery plant, one of the largest vehicle battery manufacturing plants in North America at 1.3 million square feet at full capacity, will be capable of producing 200,000 advanced-technology batteries annually. It will be located adjacent to the vehicle assembly plant, which will be retooled to accommodate production of Nissan LEAF and will be capable of producing 150,000 electric cars annually.
"Nissan is committed to affordable, sustainable mobility. What we're doing here will radically transform the automotive experience for consumers. Today is a major step in helping create a green economy in the United States," said Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Company Ltd. "Production of Nissan LEAF and lithium-ion batteries in Smyrna brings the United States closer to its goal of energy independence, creates green jobs and helps sustain American manufacturing. Nissan is a leader in global manufacturing innovation, and this state-of-the-art battery plant will strengthen that leadership."
"Tennessee has become a national leader in driving clean energy innovation, and Nissan's commitment to build this advanced-technology battery facility here in Tennessee is a key part of that success," said Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. "Nissan's investment in Tennessee began more than two decades ago, and this new manufacturing plant leads the way to the next generation of automotive and clean energy jobs in the Volunteer state."
Combined, the construction of the battery plant and modification of the Smyrna manufacturing facility to accommodate Nissan LEAF production represents an investment of up to $1.7 billion, which initially is being supported by a U.S. Department of Energy loan for 80 percent of that investment, up to $1.4 billion.
The loan was issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, a $25 billion program authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The program is designed to accelerate the development of vehicles and technologies that increase U.S. energy independence, create cleaner means of transportation and stimulate the American economy.
Approximately 13,000 U.S. consumers have placed a reservation for Nissan LEAF since reservations opened on April 20. The reservation process, which is open to the general public via NissanUsa.com, is the first step in securing a place on the list to purchase or lease Nissan LEAF. Nissan LEAF begins rolling out to select markets in the United States, Japan and Europe in December, with increased availability beginning in spring 2011, and full market rollout in 2012. It initially will be produced in Oppama, Japan, and will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries being produced in Zama, Japan. The Renault-Nissan Alliance will also produce lithium-ion batteries in Cacia, Portugal, and Sunderland, United Kingdom, as well as in Renault's Flins plant in France.