First 2018 Nissan Leaf produced at assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, Dec 2017Enlarge Photo
The 2018 Nissan Leaf electric car will start to appear at Nissan dealers in January, the company said Monday.
That availability came in an announcement that the second-generation electric car officially went into production the same day at Nissan's sprawling assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.
It's one of three locations globally that will build the latest Leaf; the other two are the original Oppama plant in Yokosuka, Japan, and a Nissan factory in Sunderland, England.
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The first-generation Leaf was built in Smyrna as well, starting with the 2013 model year.
That North American 2013 Leaf got a number of notable changes from the 2011-2012 Japanese-built Leafs, including steel rather than aluminum doors and a pendant parking brake rather than an electronic one.
Since 2011, Nissan has sold almost 115,000 Leafs in the U.S., though sales have now dwindled to a handful of leftover 2017 models as the company and its dealers prepare for the new, second-generation car.
Leaf enthusiasts and owners with first 2018 Nissan Leaf built in Smyrna, Tennessee, Dec 2017Enlarge Photo
Production of the 2018 Leaf will be intermingled in the huge Smyrna plant with that of five other vehicles: the Altima mid-size sedan, Maxima large sedan, Pathfinder and Rogue crossover utility vehicles, and the Infiniti QX60 luxury SUV.
The Smyrna plant has a total production capacity of 640,000 vehicles a year, making it one of the highest-volume vehicle factories in the U.S.
Nissan released few new details on its 2018 Leaf, whose EPA ratings still haven't been issued.
The company did say, however, that "its range will exceed 150 miles on a single charge," a slight increase over the 140 miles it had previously cited.
2018 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
Nissan North America chairman Jose Munoz with 2018 Nissan Leaf, built at plant in Smyrna, TennesseeEnlarge Photo
Nissan executives, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam with 2018 Nissan Leaf built in Smyrna, Dec 2017Enlarge Photo
Nissan has already acknowledged that a second Leaf variant, with a higher-capacity battery that gives more than 200 miles of range, will enter the market as a 2019 model.
At 150 miles, the 2018 Leaf is one of the three electric cars base-priced under $40,000 with ranges of 150 miles or more.
The other two are the Chevrolet Bolt EV, rated at 238 miles and starting at $37,500, and the Tesla Model 3 base version, rated at 220 miles and starting at $35,000 (though that version of the Model 3 is not yet in production).
The 2018 Nissan Leaf will be available nationwide from its launch next month, at a starting price of $30,875 including the mandatory destination fee.