Nissan Leaf factory rendering – Click above for high-res image gallery

This morning Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn was in Smyrna, Tennessee to break ground for the company's first lithium ion battery plant outside of Japan. The factory, adjacent to Nissan's existing vehicle assembly complex there, will have a capacity for 200,000 battery packs annually after it starts production in 2012. The packs will initially be used for the Nissan Leaf, which will be produced alongside the Altima and Maxima in Smyrna.

The assembly plant will have an initial capacity of 150,000 electric vehicles. Nissan has previously announced that it was willing to sell batteries to other automakers, which could help absorb the extra capacity. So far, no other automaker has announced its intention to use Nissan's batteries. At the Tokyo Motor Show, Ghosn announced that Nissan would also build a compact Inifinti EV and an electric version of the NV200 compact van. Either of those could be built in North America with Smyrna batteries. The battery plant and the assembly plant re-tooling are being funded from a $1.4 billion low interest loan that Nissan won from the Department of Energy in 2009.


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[Source: Nissan]


PRESS RELEASE

05.26.2010 , SMYRNA, Tenn.
SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY COMES TO UNITED STATES WITH DEDICATION OF NISSAN LEAF PRODUCTION SITE

- Lithium-ion battery & 100% electric vehicle production to begin in 2012 -

Nissan today 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 Co., 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, UK, as well as in Renault's Flins plant in France.

In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive design, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program 2010, whose key priorities are reducing CO2 emissions, cutting other emissions and increasing recycling. More information on the Nissan LEAF and zero emissions can be found at www.nissanusa.com.