The all-electric 2013 Nissan Leaf will begin production at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tenn., plant this week, alongside the important Altima and Maxima models. Nissan is currently the only automaker that manufacturers its own electric vehicle batteries, at the largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the U.S.
Bringing 2013 Nissan Leaf production to Tennessee will help the Japanese automaker cut costs. “Process efficiency is a never ending activity for us. We strive to create new internal benchmarks in efficiency with each new model. By assembling the Leaf on our current Altima and Maxima line, we are able to reduce costs by using existing equipment,” said Susan Brenan, Nissan’s vice president of manufacturing in Smyrna.
With two years of production, the Nissan Leaf is the global leader in EV sales globally with over 50,000 Leafs sold. About 20,000 of those are currently on the road in the U.S. Still, the Leaf has fallen short of Nissan’s expectations for sales, selling about half of the original target set by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. Nissan’s senior vice president of sales and marketing believes the Leaf could be ripe for growth:
“The Nissan Leaf has expanded beyond the early adopters and is now appealing to a broad spectrum of consumers. Since we launched the Lead in 2010, we’ve learned that people are very attracted to the advanced technology and other amenities, but they are also looking for a more affordable price point.”
The Nissan Leaf currently gets an average range of 73 miles per charge according to the EPA, and starts just over $35,000 before a federal tax credit of $7,500.