Ultimately capable of building 200,000 packs annually
When Nissan moved into the Southeast and started production in Smyrna, Tennessee in 1983, not many probably looked ahead 30 years. If they did, they would see that first conventional gasoline vehicle plant grow to accomodate the production of electric vehicles (EVs). With additional plants added for powertrain assembly in nearby Decherd, Tennessee and another vehicle assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi just a few hours down the road building trucks and minivans, Nissan has amassed a very large footprint in the Souith. Undoubtedly, Nissan has done a great deal for the region as they poured billions of dollars into construction jobs directly (and brought more infrastructure investment indirectly) into the region. Let’s not forget the ongoing economic contribution of all of those factory workers, and now adminstrative workers with Nissan’s headquarters relocated to Franklin, Tennessee. Nissans have become a staple of drivers in the south as the workers (and their relatives, friends and neighbors) supported the company that supported their states.
With the advent of the LEAF beginning production soon, Nissan just announced the launch of the largest lithium ion battery plant in the United States – also in Smyrna. The significance of that statement should not be undervalued. Every time one hears of an EV manufacturer impacted by the operations of their externally supplied battery maker, Nissan must be grateful for the ability to have control over their own battery supply.
LEAF capacity in Smyrna is currently slated to top out at a maximum of 150,000 units per year, although nowhere near that number will be built initially. With the battery plant capacity designed to produce up to 200,000 per year, some may wonder why, as LEAF production will be 50,000 units less than that. Simple. LEAF will not be Nissan’s only EV.
Infiniti has already revealed plans for a LEAF based EV, while the soon to be released NV200 (think alternative to the Ford Transit van) will be available with a 4-cylinder internal combusion engine, it also has plans to be available with electric propulsion.
While the mainstream press chooses to focus on the $500 million loss that the government took on Solyndra, they choose to generally ignore the positive loans, such as the $1.4 billion made available to Nissan for this expansion. One result is 300 current new manufacturing employees with the potential for up to 1,000 additional jobs at full production. Also, we just saw where the government turned a $22 billion profit on their investment in AIG. Yes… with a B.
Look for additional word on the release of the 2013 LEAF after the first of the year.