The Nissan LEAF, over the course of its two-year existence, has become the world’s most popular electric vehicle. Nissan has sold about 50,000 LEAFs, 20,000 of which were sold in the United States. With these sales in mind, Nissan decided to move its production of the LEAF to the plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, in part to increase U.S. sales.
This is an interesting move on Nissan’s part, but it makes sense. Firstly, the Smyrna plant is one of Nissan’s production plants for gasoline-powered vehicles. It may seem inefficient to change routine and create a completely different assembly line for an electric vehicle, but this isn’t the case. The LEAF’s assembly is similar to that of the Altima and Maxima and will use a lot of the same existing equipment. The only significant differences are that the LEAF takes a Lithium-ion battery instead of a fuel tank and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. The only changes that need to be made to the plant are an addition of quality confirmation for electric vehicles, and training for workers.
Changes like this are only possible because Nissan began producing its lithium-ion batteries and electric motors in the United States, both close by to the Smyrna plant. As Susan Brennan, vice president of manufacturing in Smyrna, put it: “We truly have localized U.S. manufacturing of the LEAF’s major components across the board.” If production of these parts remained outside of the U.S., changes like this would be inefficient and more expensive.
Boasting innovations and improvements, the 2013 Nissan LEAF will appeal more and more to American consumers, which is why Nissan is aiming to produce 85 percent of its U.S. sales volume in the United States by 2015. In addition, this will create about 300 jobs for United States citizens. With improved 240V charging that is twice as fast as it was previously, the LEAF is more convenient and accessible. In this new age of fuel efficiency, the 2013 Nissan LEAF is the way to go.