Nissan lithium-ion battery pack plant under construction, Smyrna, Tennessee, Jan 2011
The devastating earthquake and Tsunami which hit Japan back in March not only caused billions of dollars of damage, killed thousands and made many more homeless, but it also crippled a large part of the auto industry, both in Japan and around the world.
With everything from parts to paint becoming harder to source, many automakers were forced to close entire production lines, or operate a half capacity, creating a knock-on effect that will affect the auto industry for some time to come.
As one of the affected automakers, Nissan was unclear if it would be able to start U.S. assembly of its 2013 Nissan Leaf on time as it had originally planned, but has now confirmed that its Smyrna, Tennessee factory will be ready to produce the all-electric hatchback on schedule.
2011 Nissan Leaf
“We’re still targeting to launch on time”, said Bill Krueger, head of manufacturing and supply chain management for Nissan North America. “It’s too early to give up on meeting our original timing. We have just shy of a year and a half to make it up.”
We can see why Nissan wants to start on time. Since its launch, the 2011 Nissan Leaf has proved extremely popular, but the automaker has come under a lot of criticism for the long waiting times for the car.
Its solution? An estimated $1.6 billion investment in Tennessee, split between upgrading its existing production lines and building a brand-new battery factory, capable of producing as many as 200,000 battery modules a year.
When the factory and existing upgrades are complete, Nissan North America claims it will be able to make upwards of 150,000 Leafs a year in Smyrna.
[Nissan via Automotive News (subscription required)]