With its adjacent battery manufacturing and assembly plants now operational in Smyrna, Tenn., Nissan has established a state-of-the-art manufacturing process in the U.S.
The electric car, launched in December 2010, had its best sales month in March this year with 2,236 units sold and Nissan is set up to produce as many as 150,000 per year if needed – far more capacity than it yet needs.
The Leaf shares the line with Altimas and Maximas and putting things in perspective, one Leaf makes its way through the line every 15 minutes, or about four per hour, amidst a steady stream of the conventional models.
Last month the Altima sold 37,763 units – edging out the Toyota Camry as the U.S. best-seller by 100 units – so for now and the foreseeable future it is a priority to the Japanese automaker.
But the Leaf and other electric cars to come are expected to increase in importance and sales volume as the tide slowly turns.
To show how the cars are being assembled now, The Tennessean put together this time-lapse video of the manufacturing process involved, and we’re passing it along.
There were several challenges involved in fitting the Leaf into the line including accommodations needed for the fact the Leaf is a smaller car, and its powertrain is altogether different.
The plant is now working three shifts 24 hours per day, and as you can see much of it is automated, reliant on robotic assembly.