And so begins the early stages of the next chapter of the electric car revolution. Those are pretty much the thoughts running through my head as I type out this story about Nissan’s recent announcement of the beginning of production in Japan of its all-electric Leaf. The company, as it produces the cars, will begin exports to the United States in November, followed by shipments to Europe in December.
The Leaf will be produced at Nissan’s Oppama Plant along with popular gasoline models such as Nissan Juke and Nissan Cube. Nissan said part of the production 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.
The Oppama plant, said Nissan, has an annual production capacity of 50,000 units. The Leaf will start production at the company’s U.S. Smyrna plant in late 2012 and at its U.K.-based Sunderland facility 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.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
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