Nissan will start the US production of the 2013 Nissan Leaf at its Smyrna plant in Tennessee this week. The start of the Nissan Leaf at the Smyrna plant assembly coincides with the opening of the carmaker’s battery plant in an adjacent facility. Nissan is the sole carmaker that produces its own electric vehicle batteries at what is considered as the largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the United States.
Susan Brennan, Nissan's vice president of manufacturing in Smyrna, remarked that the shift of the 2013 Nissan Leaf to the Smyrna plant is testament to the “flexibility, efficiency and talent” of the carmaker’s US workforce. She noted that the Leaf has met or exceeded every one of the plant’s rigorous quality requirements.
While the Leaf is considered as a revolutionary vehicle, its assembly requirements are more similar to those of its traditional siblings like the Altima and Maxima with which it shares a production line. To add the Leaf to the Smyrna manufacturing environment, a few process modifications is needed like the addition of quality confirmation for electric vehicles and special training for technicians.
Brennan added that Nissan’s Smyrna plant strives to create new internal benchmarks in efficiency with each new model. She remarked that by assembling the Leaf on the Altima and Maxima line, the site could cut costs by using existing equipment.
Brennan cited that gas-powered vehicles receive fuel tanks and internal combustion engines on the line while the Nissan Leaf receives gets a lithium-ion battery pack from its battery plant next door, as well as an electric motor built at the Nissan powertrain plant in Decherd, Tenn. She remarked that they have localized US manufacturing of the Leaf's major components.