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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, 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.


Nissan Reveals Power 88 Plan: 8% Profit Margin, 8% Market Share and New Model Every 6 Weeks

Japanese maker goes on the offensive.

by on Jun.27, 2011

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn powers up.

Declaring it’s time for the maker to go on the offensive, “instead of restructuring,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has revealed his new Power 88 plan, which could put it within striking distance of the hobbled Toyota Motor Co.

The new six-year plan is the latest in a series of long-term targets laid out by Ghosn since assuming control of the then-struggling Nissan just before the turn of the Millennium.  But short of the original turnaround strategy, Power 88 is arguably the most ambitious laid out by the Brazilian-born executive.

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It calls for a huge increase in Nissan’s market share, to 8% within six years, while the maker also targets an 8% profit margin.  To help support its ambitious aims, Ghosn promises Nissan will significantly expand its presence in emerging markets, like China, while rolling out at least one new product, on average, every six weeks.

“This is the first time that Nissan is starting a plan on the offensive instead of reconstructing something, or defending something,” Ghosn told reporters at the maker’s new headquarters in Yokohama.


Nissan Confirms Slow Launch of Leaf Battery Car

Delays likely to continue through spring, maker says.

by on Jan.22, 2011

It could take awhile for delivery even if you've already placed an order for the Nissan Leaf.

A slow and cautious approach to rolling out the all-new Nissan Leaf could frustrate customers who’ve been waiting to take delivery of the market’s first mass-production battery-electric vehicle.

The Japanese maker has confirmed to that it has decided to slow the initial production ramp-up “to get it absolutely perfect and make sure there’s no perception the car isn’t ready for market,” said Nissan’s chief U.S. spokesman David Reuter.

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that could lead to some frustration among anxious motorists – 20,000 of which have already placed preliminary orders for the compact, battery-powered sedan.  Since its launch, last month, U.S. deliveries have only been “in the 100s,” according to spokesman Reuter, who anticipated, “We’ll be getting up to normal production by April.”

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The challenge for Nissan is that it is working not only with an all-new product platform but with an entirely new powertrain technology, one that has never been put into truly high-volume production before.  One of the most difficult issues is ensuring that the Leaf’s lithium-ion battery pack comes out of the plant in shape to meet the demands of the automotive environment.


First Look: 2012 Infiniti M35h

Japanese luxury brand’s first hybrid set for early ’11 launch.

by on Nov.19, 2010

Infiniti's first hybrid, the M35h, launches in early 2011 as a 2012 model.

Late to the game, Infiniti nonetheless hopes to get off to a good start with the introduction of its first hybrid-electric vehicle, the M35h, which will be the first in the HEV segment to deliver both 30 mpg and more than 350 horsepower.

Delivering both “V8 power and 4-cylinder fuel efficiency,” says Infiniti General Manager Ben Poore, will make the M35h stand out as both “a driver’s car” and a vehicle that sharply curbs fuel consumption.

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Designated a 2012 model, and set for launch next spring, the M35h starts with the same basics as Infiniti’s latest M model, the brand’s premier product line.  Under the hood is a unique hybrid powertrain developed specifically by parent Nissan.  (The Japanese maker’s first hybrid, a version of the Nissan Altima, licensed its basic drive system from Toyota.)


Infiniti Aims to Best Toyota With All-New Hybrid-Electric System

Faster, more fuel-efficient, maker claims of M Hybrid, which is set for a Nov. debut in Los Angeles.

by on Aug.19, 2010

The 2012 Infiniti M35 Hybrid promises to deliver V8 performance I4 mileage.

Late to the party, perhaps, but Nissan’s Infiniti division is racing to make up lost time.  As reported, earlier this week, the luxury marque is launching an all-new performance line, IPL.  And next up is the first Infiniti hybrid-electric vehicle.

A version of the latest-generation Infiniti M sedan, the new HEV will also be the first Nissan hybrid developed entirely in-house, as the less-than-successful Nissan Altima Hybrid relied on technology licensed from erstwhile rival Toyota.

The drivetrain in the Infiniti M35 Hybrid will be notably different from the Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is used in both Toyota and Lexus products ranging from the Prius to the RX400h, senior Infiniti officials told  For one thing, it will rely on lithium-ion batteries, rather than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used by Toyota.

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That will permit it to store more power in a smaller space and, in turn, says Infiniti General Manager Ben Poore, that should both improve performance and enhance fuel economy when compared to current hybrid systems.

“We’ll deliver V8 performance with 4-cylinder fuel-economy,” he promised, adding “We’re going for fuel economy of over 30 mpg on the highway,” with the final number likely to come in between 30% and 40% above the current 3.7-liter M37.


Ghosn Defends Nissan’s EV Program

Battery power is “here to stay,” says exec.

by on May.25, 2010

With the 2011 Nissan Leaf only set to begin fleet sales later this year, the maker already claims to have nearly 20,000 retail orders in hand.

Like it not, the electric car is here to stay, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Allliance, said during a whirlwind visit to Detroit.

The Japanese side of the alliance, in particular, is betting heavily on battery power, with its first battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, the Nissan Leaf, due to go on sale late this year.  Other models, including a luxury BEV for the Infiniti brand, are set to follow.

The first-year production of the electric-powered Nissan Leaf is already sold out, Ghosn said, noting the Japanese automaker already has 13,000 orders from customers in the U.S. and another 6,000 orders from buyers in Japan, with more pouring in every day.

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Initially, Nissan plans to offer the 2011 Leaf to fleet buyers, but for 2012 it will go into retail sale, and in the U.S., the orders have come from private citizens not government organizations, stressed Ghosn.


Nissan Ready to Take Orders on 2011 Leaf Battery-Electric Vehicle

Strategy shifts as maker decides batteries "not sold separately."

by on Feb.11, 2010

Have $100? You can reserve your 2011 Nissan Leaf battery car starting in April.

Wrapping up a 24-city promotional tour for its first battery-electric vehicle, Nissan has announced it is ready to begin taking orders for the 2011 Leaf sedan.

Interested customers will be able to place a refundable $100 reservation fee, starting in April, for the lithium-ion-powered Leaf, which will be one of the first in a new generation of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, expected to reach market over the next several years.  The deposit will put registrants at the head of the line when the formal ordering process begins in August.  Nissan plans a phased rollout of the 2011 Leaf, starting in select markets, in December 2010.


The automaker says it will make the BEV available for either lease or sale, but in a surprise move, it has reversed course on what was seen as a creative, if untraditional, pricing strategy.  The maker had considered the idea of setting one price for the Leaf itself, then another for the battery, which would have only been available as a lease.


First Drive: 2010 Nissan Leaf

Will consumers plug into battery powered 5-seater?

by on Nov.13, 2009

Nissan rolls out a prototype of the 2011 Leaf battery-electric vehicle to launch its 22-city "Zero Emissions Tour."

Nissan rolls out a prototype of the 2011 Leaf battery-electric vehicle to launch its 22-city "Zero Emissions Tour," before next year's introduction.

Every so often, the fate of an automaker winds up riding on a single new product.  For Nissan, the new Leaf could be exactly one of those vehicles.

No, if the little 5-seat sedan, set to roll into showrooms next year, fails to attract enough buyers, the Japanese automaker won’t go broke.  But Nissan’s corporate pride and image clearly have been wed to the success of the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV.

Long the also-ran in terms of bringing environmentally-friendly products to market, Nissan hopes to leapfrog leaders like Toyota and Honda, who it contends are taking only halfway measures, focusing on hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles that continue to burn petroleum and produce global warming emissions.  Nissan is going all the way, with Leaf – and three other BEVs it’s developing – which will eliminate tailpipe emissions entirely.

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While “electrification” has become an industry buzzword, Nissan’s faith in battery technology puts it far out on a limb, with Leaf.  So, we jumped at a chance to take the new electric sedan for a spin – in this case, a moderately short one around a special course set up next to Dodge Stadium, in Los Angeles, where the Japanese maker is kicking off a 22-city “Zero Emission Tour” that will lead up to next year’s formal introduction.


Infiniti Gets Battery Car, Nissan May Add Three EVs

Land Glider concept shows alternate charging technology.

by on Oct.21, 2009

The 2011 Nissan Leaf is making its full public debut in Tokyo this week, where CEO Carlos Ghosn announced plans for a new Infiniti battery car.

The 2011 Nissan Leaf is making its public debut in Tokyo this week, where CEO Carlos Ghosn announced plans for an Infiniti battery car.

Nissan Motor Co. is going big for electric power, the automaker confirmed during its Tokyo Motor Show news conference today.

The automaker’s CEO Carlos Ghosn revealed Nissan’s luxury division, Infiniti, will add a compact four-door battery car to its line-up.  It will join a fast-expanding array of Nissan electric vehicles.

While Ghosn declined to provide details, he noted that the Infiniti model will comply with the brand’s motto of “inspired performance.”

Ghosn drove onto the stage, at Makuhari Messe, in a tandem two-seat battery car, dubbed the Land Glider.  But it appears unlikely the unusual, narrow-gauge model will be among the new zero-emission alternatives to reach production.

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Earlier this year, Ghosn revealed that the flagship Nissan brand will introduce its first battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, in 2011.  And a battery version of the NV200 commercial van is under development, as well, the Brazilian-born executive, who also serves as CEO of Nissan’s Alliance partner, Renault, revealed in Tokyo.


First Look: Nissan LEAF Battery-Electric Vehicle

Automaker unveils what could be first in a proposed electric vehicle fleet.

by on Aug.02, 2009

Nissan plans to put the Leaf battery car into limited production in a year, and begin retail sales in 2012.

Nissan plans to put the Leaf battery car into limited production in a year, and begin retail sales in 2012.

Nissan is hoping to turn a new Leaf. The automaker this weekend pulled the wraps off its long-promised battery vehicle, a product the Japanese manufacturer hopes will put it in the forefront of the industry’s push for cleaner, more fuel-efficient automobiles.

While Nissan is by no means the only automaker pushing for “electrification” of the car, the maker has been racing to form an array of government and private partnerships that it believes will help it turn battery power into a commercially viable concept faster than competitors like Toyota, General Motors or Honda.

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Dubbed Leaf, Nissan’s 5-door hatchback is roughly the same size as the gasoline-powered Tiida – which it markets in the U.S. as the Versa.  In current configuration, the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, is expected to deliver about 100 miles per charge, though company insiders tell that their mid to long-term goal is to bring range up to 200, and perhaps even 250 miles as lithium-ion battery technology continues to improve.