It is a landmark day for electric vehicles in America. Today, Nissan begins production of battery packs for the Nissan Leaf EV at its Smyrna, Tennessee factory. While sales of the Nissan Leaf haven’t been what Nissan hoped for, domestic battery production could mean a new generation of affordable EVs are just on the horizon.
It is no secret that the Nissan Leaf has faced more than a few shortcomings, from lackluster sales to range-losing battery packs. Even Nissan’s own executives have expressed disappointment with sales so far of the Japanese EV, going so far as to cancel the opening ceremony for the Smyrna battery factory.
Even so, Nissan now has a factory capable of producing up to 200,000 EV batteries every year. This has added 300 jobs in the Smyrna area already, and could add up to 1,000 total if Leaf sales pick up.
These new batteries will go into the 2013 Nissan Leaf, and with the Leaf built on the same production line as the Nissan Altima and Maxima, production can be adjusted as Nissan sees fit. By 2015, Nissan hopes to build 85% of all its cars right here in America, begging the question…what is an American company these days?
Regardless, the Nissan Leaf will soon have a lot of domestic car street cred, and that could mean lower costs thanks to America’s increasingly competitive manufacturing sector.