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Nissan Launches New US Battery Plant

Smyrna plant supplying US version of Leaf electric vehicle.

by on Apr.23, 2013

A Nissan Leaf rolls down the assembly line in Smyrna.

Nissan, true to the vision of its chief executive, remains upbeat on the prospects for sales of electric vehicles as its launches production of a revamped U.S. version of the Leaf.

After suffering unexpectedly slow sales last year, demand for the Nissan Leaf has picked up sharply in recent months – and the introduction of a lower-cost model is expected to boost sales even further. Nissan was able to drop costs, it says, by shifting Leaf production to it sprawling factory complex in Tennessee – where the maker is now producing the electric vehicle’s batteries, as well.

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The Nissan Battery Plant in Smyrna, Tennessee is the largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in North America and the only plant controlled by a major auto manufacturer, giving Nissan complete control of the quality and the technology, representatives of the Japanese automaker, noted Mark Swenson, vice president of product engineering.

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Nissan to Introduce Lower-Priced Leaf

Less expensive model to debut after launch of US production.

by on Oct.09, 2012

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Leaf debut.

Hoping to sharply boost demand – while also taking advantage of its new, lower-cost U.S. production base – Nissan plans to introduce a lower-priced version of the Leaf battery-electric vehicle next year.

The move will follow the December 2012 launch of production of the Leaf on a new assembly line at the sprawling Nissan manufacturing center in Smyrna, Tennessee.  Currently, the battery car is imported from Japan – which means it is subject to lopsided exchange rates penalizing the Japanese yen.

Cutting the price could prove critical to near-term sales, as well as the long-term viability, of the Nissan Leaf. After a moderately strong start in 2011, sales have taken an unexpected dive this year.

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The new model will feature far less content, “though this is not a stripper,” according to a well-placed Nissan source.  That translates into no navigation system or HID headlights – features normally not found in the segment a vehicle the size of a Nissan Leaf would normally compete in were it not for its unique battery drivetrain.

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70% of Japanese Cars Sold in U.S. Now Built in North American Plants

Japanese have created 407,000 U.S. jobs, says new survey.

by on Jan.02, 2012

Honda launched production of the latest Odyssey minivan at a plant in Alabama last year.

Nearly seven in 10 of the Japanese-badged cars, trucks and crossovers sold in the U.S. last year were produced on a North American assembly line, according to a new report.

More than a quarter century after the first Japanese transplant – a Honda factory in Marysville, Ohio – went into operation more than 400,000 jobs in the U.S. have been created by the Japanese, according to a new report by the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association, or JAMA.

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And that trend could continue.  With the yen stronger than ever, manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan and Honda are steadily shifting production away from the home islands.  Within the last several months Toyota has announced plans to begin producing several product lines, including the Sienna minivan, in the U.S. for export to Korea.  They had previously been produced in Japan.

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