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The technology, and bet, behind Nissan’s Leaf

Nissan North America Inc. made its all-electric Leaf all the more important to the Middle Tennessee economy yesterday, officially announcing the launch of its battery plant in Smyrna. The plant amounts to a double down for Smyrna.

The bet: That Nissan’s decision to go all electric was the right one in the growing and evolving hybrid/electric vehicle market.

The Leaf — set to be manufactured by the Franklin-based Nissan division at its Smyrna assembly plant as well — is going where no vehicle has gone before, technology wise.

If you haven’t made the distinction, the reason is the Leaf is entirely electric, depending completely on a battery that drivers recharge in their own garages or at charging stations.

Competitors include the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid that has a combination gasoline engine, and the Toyota Prius, which has had various iterations as the first widely accepted hybrid vehicle. Here are a few facts about the Leaf’s battery technology:

• The battery pack for the Leaf has 192 cells providing an energy total of 24 kilowatt hours. That’s the equivalent, Nissan says, of more than 4,500 smart phone batteries.

• The Leaf’s battery pack is located under the floorboards, which Nissan says creates more space and lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity.

• On average, the range of the battery is about 75 miles. But Nissan also has paid attention to resiliency, saying the battery pack was tested with extreme temperatures, underwater immersion and crash tests. The Nashville Business Journal doesn’t recommend you going all James Bond, but we thought you’d like to know.
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