Nissan is starting to build the Leaf at its plant in Smyrna. Until now the electric car was made exclusively in Japan. Nissan says producing it in Tennessee is part of a broader push to get 85 percent of U.S. sales made in America in the next few years.
Mark Swenson oversees manufacturing for the company:
“With the strength of the yen, it’s really hurtful for us to build it in Japan and sell it in the U.S. So the localized production of this product will mean we’ll be able to have more value for our company by having more locally produced parts and components for it here.”
Together Nissan says making the Leaf and its battery has added more than 300 jobs, and more could follow if demand is high.
Last year sales of the Leaf were flat, at less then ten thousand. That was less than half the company’s goal, and far behind the Leaf’s rival, the plugin hybrid Chevy Volt. Nissan is also struggling to appease customers in Arizona who say the Leaf’s battery life drops in harsh desert heat.