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Nissan Builds First Lithium-Ion Cells For 2013 Leaf Electric Car

Just two years after the first Nissan Leaf was sold in the U.S., Nissan said today it has opened a plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, to fabricate lithium-ion cells for electric-car batteries.

The first cells built at the plant have completed the necessary aging process, and can now be charged for the first time.

Those cells will go into electric cars built in its adjacent assembly plant, the first of which will be the 2013 Nissan Leaf.

That is a slightly revised model of the battery-electric car it has been importing from Oppama, Japan, for the 2011 and 2012 model years.

The U.S. version of the updated 2013 Leaf, which has not yet been described by the company, will be built among Altima and Maxima sedans on the existing assembly line.

Other all-electric models will be added later, almost surely including a production version of the Infiniti LE compact luxury sedan revealed as a concept at this year’s New York Auto Show.

The cell fabrication factory in Smyrna is the largest plant in the U.S. that builds automotive-scale lithium-ion batteries, and one of just three globally for Nissan.

It can produce batteries for up to 200,000 electric vehicles a year. The other two, which can build 50,000 apiece, are in Japan and in Sunderland, England.
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