Surge in Leaf demand prompts Nissan to mull output hike

Article by Anita Panait, on August 9, 2013

Nissan is drafting plans to start producing more Leaf units as dealers report increasing demand for the once-unpopular electric car. Bill Krueger, Nissan Americas vice chairman and senior vice president for manufacturing, purchasing production engineering and supply chain management, remarked that Leaf output will be increased in small and careful steps.

Krueger said that Nissan is already taking action to hike the output of electric motors from its Decherd engine site in Tennessee. The site is currently boosting its workforce to launch third shift -- a move that will provide Nissan with a third more electric motors starting this fall.

This will also ease up a critical pinch-point for Leaf production in the United States. Krueger remarked that Nissan will determine next month whether to add a second shift to its output of lithium-ion battery modules for the Leaf at its Smyrna plant in Tennessee.

Nissan’s dealers have been selling around 2,000 Leafs a month recently, a figure that is around three to four times its sales a year ago, when the electric car is still produced outside the US.

Nissan logged a 230-percent jump in sales of its Leaf EV in the US in the first seven months of 2013 to 11,703 units, compared to just 3,543 units in the period in 2012. The carmaker sold 1,864 Leafs in July 2013, compared with 395 units in the same month in 2012.

Decision makers at Nissan, however, want to wait until sales figures for August 2013 come in before deciding whether to increase output of the Leaf. Krueger remarked that the carmaker will make a decision in September, using August sales as a main factor.

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