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2013 Nissan Leaf Edges Closer To Production In Smyrna, TN

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Later this year, Nissan will start producing the 2013 all-electric Leaf at its Smyrna facility in Tennessee.

The first time the car has been made outside of Japan, the 2013 models will be made alongside some of Nissan’s other popular cars, including the 2013 Pathfinder, Altima, Maxima, Rogue and Infiniti JX Crossover. 

But before it can start production in Smyrna, Nissan has had to make room for the all-electric hatch by moving production of two of its larger vehicles elsewhere. 

Last week, the final Nissan Frontier and Xterra to be produced in Smyrna rolled off the production line. 

From now on, the pickup and its SUV cousin will be made in Mississippi, while Smyrna turns it attentions to the eco-friendly Leaf.

Although the Leaf has only been on sale in the U.S. for around 20 months, Nissan has been preparing to manufacture the Leaf in the U.S. for some time. 

Nissan lithium-ion battery pack plant under construction, Smyrna, Tennessee, Jan 2011

Nissan lithium-ion battery pack plant under construction, Smyrna, Tennessee, Jan 2011

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In fact, the Japanese firm has invested an estimated $1.6 billion in establishing the Smyrna facility as home for North American Leaf production, split between upgrading its existing production lines and building a brand-new battery factory. 

Nissan has previously said the upgrades to its Smyrna facility, alongside the addition of a third shift for the first time in the plant’s history, will mean it could make upwards of 150,000 Leafs a year if demand dictates. 

At the moment, we know very little about the upcoming 2013 Leaf beyond the promise of a faster on-board charger, some interior tweaks, a better heating system and potentially a longer range

But with the news that Nissan has moved production of two of its gas-guzzlers elsewhere, one thing is certain. 

The 2013 Nissan Leaf is coming...soon.

+++++++++++

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  1. I don't know the specifics of Nissan's plant, but a "normal" plant capacity would look something like this:

    1 crew: 120,000 upa (1 10 hour shift)
    2 crew: 240,000 upa (2 10 hours shifts)
    3 crew: 300,000 upa

    So to me it looks like the Leaf is taking up about half of the plant at max. Like the Ford Focus Electric, the Leaf will be mixed in with production of ICE models.

    The biggest problem for Nissan right now are the battery and motor plants where capacity is around 200,000 upa maximum. That means that one shift is around 80,000 upa or so, and, unlike the assembly plant which can be flexed among models, the component plants are fixed on a single product. These underutilized facilities are going to cause pain if volumes remain low.
     
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