Nissan says Leaf production coming to US

The all-electric competitor to the Toyota Prius and GM Volt hybrids will be made in Tennessee.

By TheStreet Staff Apr 20, 2011 1:21PM

By Ted Reed, TheStreet

 

Kicking off the New York Auto Show, Nissan's top U.S. executive said the automaker plans to boost its U.S. production, including adding Leaf production in Smyrna, Tenn., by the end of 2012.

 

Carlos Tavares, the chairman of Nissan Americas, said the primary cause of the move is the strong yen, which has inspired a desire to ensure that a product "sold in the regions (is) 85% made in the region."

 

"That's the driver," Tavares said. He added that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan underscored the need for higher U.S. production, although all Nissan's Japan plants are now operating.

 

Production of the Nissan Rogue will move to Smyrna from Japan. The new Infiniti JX seven-passenger car will be built in Smyrna. Nissan will also build a Smyrna battery plant to provide batteries for the Leaf. The automaker will also continue to build the Leaf in Japan.

Meanwhile, production of the Xterra SUV and the Frontier pickup will move from Smyrna to Canton, Miss.

 

In his keynote address, Tavares focused on the increasing availability of the Leaf, which uses no gasoline at all -- that's an advantage over Toyota's (TM) popular Prius as well as GM's (GM) not-so-available Volt.

 

Tavares said 500 Leafs have been sold in the U.S. since the Dec. 12 launch, and he bragged with a smile that one Leaf driver has even been given a speeding ticket.

With oil prices approaching record highs, green cars are an overwhelming concern at this year's auto show, which is being held simultaneously with the Shanghai Auto Show. The Chevrolet Malibu, new Volkswagen Beetle and BWM 6 Series Coupe are being introduced at both shows.

 

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