In 2013 thousands of automotive industry jobs will be created in central Tennessee's Rutherford County, when Nissan's electric powered LEAF and the lithium-ion battery that powers it are both produced in Smyrna, along with the automaker's Infinity JX and Pathfinder utility vehicles.
Nissan's Smyrna vehicle assembly plant is being retooled to produce up to 150,000 electric cars a year, a Nissan spokesman said. Construction is also progressing on an adjacent 1.3 million square foot battery manufacturing plant capable of producing 200,000 advanced technology batteries to power the LEAF.
Up to 1,300 manufacturing jobs could be created once workers at the plant are turning out the new LEAF and its special battery component at full capacity, a Nissan spokesman said. Another 1,000 jobs will be created to assemble Nissan's new Infinity JX and Pathfinder models.
"Nissan is making significant strides to be one of the largest producers of electric vehicles and batteries in the United States," said Carlos Tavares, Chairman, Nissan Americas. Combined, the construction of the battery plant and modification of the Smyrna manufacturing facility represent an investment of up to $1.7 billion, which initially is supported by a U.S. Department of Energy loan for 80 percent of that investment, up to $1.4 billion.
The loan was issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, a $25 billion program authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
Sales of the Nissan LEAF began in select markets in the United States in December 2010. The Nissan LEAF initially is being produced in Oppama, Japan, and will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries being produced in Zama, Japan. It will be available nationwide next year, when production begins at the Tennessee facility.