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Nissan Motor Company Ltd. has started production at its Oppama, Japan, facility for the all-new 100 percent electric, zero-emission Nissan LEAF, which is slated to go on sale in December in Japan and the United States, and from early 2011, in select markets in Europe. In November, the company will begin exports to the United States, followed by shipments to Europe in December.
"This is a significant milestone, not only for Nissan and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, but also for the entire automotive industry," said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Nissan LEAF offline ceremony. "Consumers are clear. They want sustainable and affordable mobility ... and the Alliance is leading the way with cars that deliver exactly that, with the reliability, excitement and performance that consumers demand. The high-quality, innovative Nissan LEAF will radically transform what consumers expect from automobile manufacturers worldwide."
Nissan LEAF will be produced at the Oppama Plant along with popular gasoline models such as Nissan Juke and Nissan Cube. Part of the assembly line has been modified to mount battery modules at the stage of production where fuel tanks are traditionally installed, and motors and inverters are mounted at the point where engines are installed in gasoline-powered vehicles. Production quality and efficiency are assured by applying the Nissan Production Way (NPW) in every step of the assembly process.
Nissan LEAF's lithium-ion battery modules are manufactured at the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) operation in Zama, Japan, which is a joint-venture of Nissan Motor Company Ltd. and NEC Corporation. The battery module, which contains 4 battery cells, are assembled at Zama and then shipped to the Nissan Oppama facility, where 48 of them are assembled into the electric car's battery pack.
Hidetoshi Imazu, executive vice president of manufacturing, said, "Oppama will serve as the 'Mother Plant' for the production of Nissan LEAF. We will use all of the know-how and learnings from Oppama to ensure the highest quality at all sites that manufacture Nissan EVs."
Sites for future production of Nissan EVs include Smyrna, Tennessee, in the United States and Sunderland, England, in the UK.
The Oppama plant has an annual production capacity of 50,000 units. Nissan LEAF will start production at Smyrna in late 2012 and at Sunderland in early 2013. At full ramp up, Smyrna will have an annual production capacity of 150,000 units, and Sunderland will have a capacity of 50,000 units.
Nissan LEAF is the first 100% electric, zero-emission vehicle to be produced for the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Nissan, together with its Alliance partner, Renault, aims to be a global leader in zero-emission mobility. To date, the Alliance has signed 80 partnerships for zero-emission mobility with governments, municipalities and companies worldwide.