Production of the Nissan Leaf EV in the U.S. will start in December as part of plans to double the sales of the subcompact in the U.S. to 20,000 units for its present fiscal year, according to Bill Krueger, the vice chairman of the U.S. unit of Japan's second-largest automaker. Currently, the Leaf is being produced at one plant in Japan and this is what’s exported throughout the world. In February, Nissan will start production at its Sunderland, England. The vehicles built here are meant for the market in Europe. When interviewed last Sunday at B-20 business summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, Krueger said that this new U.S. plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, is predicted to increase the supply before the end of the fiscal year in March.
He added that Nissan is increasing sales throughout the country after starting in just seven states. In the last couple of months, the Leaf’s U.S. sales have declined and have fallen behind General Motors' rechargeable Chevrolet Volt and Toyota's plug-in Prius in May sales. Deliveries of the Volt had tripled to 1,680 units in May, while Leaf sales experienced a 55% drop to 510.
He explained that the company was forced to meet global demand from just one plant but once a local plant starts production in December, there would be sufficient supply for the second half of the fiscal year. Japan’s three biggest carmakers are on track to set sales records in North America this year. Last year, Nissan made 1.18 million in the U.S. and Mexico. This was its highest volume so far and this could rake in up to 1.35 million at its present pace.