The Nissan Leaf is expected to begin production on time. Natural disasters in Japan have affected Nissan's schedule, however no more notable delays are expected.
Nissan's plant in Smyrna, Tennessee is expected to begin production on time in late 2012. According to The Detroit Bureau, the devastating natural disasters that struck Japan will not delay further the extensive training program workers must go through down south. Nissan has big things in mind for the Tennessee plant, with plans to produce around 150,000 battery-electric vehicles (BEV's) annually.
The earthquake-tsunami struck Japan on March 11th, and since then Nissan has been fielding questions on how the disasters would affect their meticulously laid plans with its French partner Renault to produce 500,000 vehicles globally on an annual basis. Last month a report emerged from Nissan that expressed real concern concerning the Japanese automaker's ability to keep up with their global plans, especially in the U.S. segment of production. Bill Krueger, Nissan's director of procurement and supply chain management, said he expects no more notable delays in the complex training program American workers need to produce the BEV.
Citing some challenges that still need to be overcome, Speaking to the Detroit Bureau, he said: "We're still targeting to launch Nissan Leaf production and the production of the batteries that will power them at Smyrna late next year." Production in Japan is picking up and is expected to hit its stride in late 2012, around the same time the Leaf will be ready for production in Tennessee. Krueger commented further regarding U.S. production capabilities: "We are putting countermeasures in place to try to accelerate our schedule. We have just shy of a year-and-a-half to make it up."
Sales in the U.S. market have increased dramatically with over 4,000 units a month flying off the shelves. Nissan's new facility at Smyrna will be able to produce as many as 200,000 lithium-ion battery packs annually and while the majority of those will go to powering the Leaf, around 50,000 extra could be allocated towards a new battery-powered electric vehicle. Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti has a new model in the works, and rumor has it that is a possible destination for the extra batteries. Infiniti is staying mum on the subject, and nothing has been confirmed in terms of whether production for the new luxury car will be produced in the U.S.