Total employment at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee facility will soon push 6,000 workers—nearly double its current workforce—by early next 2013 as the Japanese automaker adds capacity to build two utility vehicles there, and gears up for production of battery packs and eventually the Nissan Leaf electric hatchback.

Nissan will add 1,000 jobs in Smyrna over the next year to staff a second shift on the factory’s truck line to assemble the Infiniti JX and the redesigned Nissan Pathfinder. But more importantly, Nissan will soon employ some 1,300 workers to produce a US-built Nissan LEAF and lithium ion battery packs. LEAF production in Tennessee is set to commence in late 2012, with the first US-built units set to hit dealer lots in early 2013.

According to Nissan, construction of the 1.3-million square-foot lithium ion battery facility, which is located adjacent to the automaker’s vehicle assembly site, is on-schedule and nearing completion. The carmaker has sunk a total of $1.7 billion on the upgrades, which will allow it to produce as many as 150,000 LEAFs and 200,000 total battery packs in the United States annually—giving the LEAF market and employment at the facility plenty of room to grow in the coming years.

Nissan says that the supply flexibility and shipping cost savings—combined with a $1.4 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan—made bringing production of North American LEAFs to United States a smart choice for the company.