When the LEAF first went on sale in the US in December 2010, it was manufactured in Japan. Nowadays, US-bound LEAFs, and their batteries, are built in Smyrna, Tennessee, and the electric motors are produced down the road in Decherd.
Nissan is finding more and more ways to localize LEAF production in the US. The latest example is the company’s new source for magnetic wire. The heavy and bulky copper wire used to be shipped in crates from Japan. Now a company called Superior Essex, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, supplies all the wire that goes into the LEAF’s motor.
“You do not have to keep a large inventory here, which also costs you money, and you do not have to wait weeks or even months to get your material for production,” said the company’s Director of International Sales, Xavier Mann.
Nissan Decherd Production Manager Coral Kanies says getting the wire within the US saves Nissan a significant amount of money on each vehicle, which means lower prices for customers, and more money for the company to invest in improving future models.
“The copper wire is one huge component of the motor. The magnets are the other huge component, and those are processed in Oklahoma, so having that all right here in North America really helps our lead times so we can supply this LEAF long term, and put the money back into making advancements in the car,” said Kanies. “Bringing that production here and those jobs here, it is better for everyone.”
Localizing a component like the magnetic wire takes about two years. Nissan spent one year on quality testing, and another year on setup and logistics. The Decherd facility will use only locally sourced magnetic wire by the end of this year. Nissan’s goal is to assemble 85 percent of US-bound vehicles within North America by 2015.