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Nissan Now Betting U.S. Leaf Production Will Launch on Schedule

Maker still faces challenges from March disaster in Japan.

by on Jul.12, 2011

Nissan's big plant in Smyrna, TN is undergoing extensive rennovations to permit it to produce the new Leaf there, likely starting in late 2012.

U.S. production of the Nissan Leaf is now likely to begin on time, in late 2012, a senior official told TheDetroitBureau.com, in spite of earlier fears the project would be delayed in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11.

The upbeat pronouncement came just a few weeks after another Nissan official warned that the project could very well be delayed by the disaster.  There are still some challenges to overcome, however, cautioned Bill Krueger, Nissan’s director of procurement and supply chain management, notably including delays in the rigorous training program for the American workers who are expected to produce the complex battery-electric vehicle at the maker’s assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

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“We’re still targeting to launch Nissan Leaf production and the production of the batteries that will power them at Smyrna late next year,” said Krueger.

Nissan launched production of the Leaf in Japan, late in 2010, and initially maintained an extremely slow pace on the assembly line to help ensure quality.  Even then, the maker discovered an unexpected problem with a small number of early battery cars that required modest tweaks to its controller software.

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