Nissan has announced the launch of the United States’ largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. The first batteries produced at the plant have completed the required aging process and are ready to receive their first charges. The new facility, adjacent to the vehicle assembly plant where the LEAF is built, is part of Nissan’s strategy to localize production. By 2015, the company aims to have 85 percent of all Nissan and Infiniti vehicles sold in the US produced in North America.
“Opening this US plant is an important milestone in Nissan’s overarching strategy to foster sustainable mobility around the world,” said CEO Carlos Ghosn. “Nissan is the zero-emissions vehicle leader, and we are making significant strides as one of the largest producers of electric vehicles and batteries in the United States. The opening of this facility in Tennessee supports our goal of making zero-emissions mobility a reality through American jobs and American manufacturing.”
The battery and assembly plants have created over 300 US manufacturing jobs to date. If demand warrants it, the plant could be expanded to produce modules for up to 200,000 batteries annually, which would represent up to 1,000 additional jobs and a total investment of up to $1.7 billion. The project is supported by a DOE loan of up to $1.4 billion, which was authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
Meanwhile, Nissan execs popped the sake as they celebrated two years of LEAF sales. Since the electric hatchback went on sale in December 2010, Nissan has delivered over 18,000 LEAFs in the US, and over 46,000 worldwide, making it the most successful all-electric vehicle in history.