Nissan today announced the expected news that it’s beginning production of the Leaf in the company’s Smyrna, Tenn., plant.
This follows the company’s announcement in mid-December that it would also make the Leaf’s battery in Smyrna in an adjacent facility. Nissan says its lithium-ion automotive battery plant is the largest in the U.S. The new battery plant and Leaf has created 300 new jobs, a number which can increase with demand according to Nissan.
“Bringing assembly of the innovative 2013 Nissan Leaf to our award-winning manufacturing plant speaks to the flexibility, efficiency and talent of our U.S. workforce,” said Susan Brennan, Nissan’s vice president of manufacturing in Smyrna. “Nissan has a 30-year history of building quality vehicles in Smyrna, and just like every vehicle we produce, the Leaf has met or exceeded every one of our rigorous quality requirements.”
Producing the Leaf in Smyrna, says Nissan, will help the company meet its goal of building 85 percent of its U.S. sales volume in North America by 2015. Building locally will also help shield the company’s U.S. sales from exposure to fluctuations in foreign currency.
Nissan says the Leaf’s assembly requirements are similar to those of the Altima and Maxima with which it shares a manufacturing line. Additionally, The Leaf’s electric motor is produced at the Nissan powertrain plant in Decherd, Tenn.
Adding the electric vehicle to the Smyrna manufacturing environment required only a few process changes such as the addition of quality confirmation specifically for electric vehicles and special training for technicians.
“By assembling the Leaf on our current Altima and Maxima line, we are able to reduce costs by using existing equipment,” stated Brennan. “We truly have localized U.S. manufacturing of the Leaf’s major components across the board,” she said.