Interesting news for anyone happy to see Nissan build its all-electric Leaf in America – its components are coming mainly from overseas. While the percentage of domestically produced parts in next year's Leaf will be increasing, this is a good example of how the idea of a US-made car doesn't mean as much as it used to.
Back in July, electric vehicle enthusiast Andrew Chiang started an inquiry with Nissan about why the 2013 Leaf's window sticker was showing that only 15 percent of its content came from the US. About 80 percent of the car comes from Japan, which seemed like an odd number given that Nissan had moved production of the Leaf from Japan to its Smyrna, TN, assembly plant. Chiang posted a photo of the window sticker on a Facebook page for the San Francisco Bay Area Nissan Leaf Owners Group. That led to 10 weeks worth of queries, responses, phone calls and in person conversations with Nissan officials. One key thing to know is that the 15 percent number is based on the value of the components, so if the expensive battery bits come from overseas, that tips the scales in the "foreign" direction.
Only 15 percent of the 2013 Nissan Leaf content comes from the US.
Nissan wouldn't confirm the numbers to Green Car Reports, but did say that the US content will be increasing for the 2014 model that will arrive at dealerships in December. Oddly enough, it's still not going to be a domestically produced car based simply on what's put inside. Brian Brockman, senior manager of corporate communications for Nissan, said that he couldn't provide specific numbers but said that the percentage of the 2014 Leaf will be comparable to "other US-built advanced vehicle technologies."
Brockman gave the 2013 Ford Focus Electric as an example of where Leaf production is headed. US and Canadian parts only make up 40 percent of the parts that go into the Focus EV, according to American Automobile Labeling Act listings used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So, we can expect the Leaf to get 25 more North American content next year. It's just the way of the industry. These days, there may be no such thing as a domestically manufactured car. Even the 2014 Chevrolet Volt only gets 45 percent of its content from the US or Canada. You can get more details over at Green Car Reports.