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Nissan breaks ground on U.S. Leaf production site

Nissan will being production of the all-electric Leaf at its new vehicle assembly facility in Smyrna, Tenn., in 2012.

The power train layout of the Leaf is made up of an electric motor driving the front wheels through a single gear transmission, and about 500 pounds of flat lithium ion batteries set in the chassis. The battery placement and distribution keeps the weight low, improving the Leaf's stability. Josh Miller/CNET

Nissan broke ground today on a manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn., that will produce lithium ion batteries to power its Leaf zero-emission vehicle. The facility could create up to 1,300 jobs when the plants are operating at full capacity.

The battery plant, one of the largest vehicle battery manufacturing plants in North America at 1.3 million square feet, will be capable of producing 200,000 advanced-technology batteries annually. It will be located adjacent to the vehicle assembly plant that Nissan will retool to accommodate production of Leaf and will be capable of producing 150,000 electric cars annually, according to Nissan news release.

Smyrna manufacturing facility is part of an investment of up to $1.7 billion, which initially is being supported by a U.S. Department of Energy loan for 80 percent of that investment, up to $1.4 billion.

"Nissan is committed to affordable, sustainable mobility. What we're doing here will radically transform the automotive experience for consumers. Today is a major step in helping create a green economy in the United States," said Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. "Production of Nissan Leaf and lithium ion batteries in Smyrna brings the United States closer to its goal of energy independence, creates green jobs and helps sustain American manufacturing. Nissan is a leader in global manufacturing innovation, and this state-of-the-art battery plant will strengthen that leadership."

About 13,000 U.S. consumers have placed a reservationfor Nissan Leaf at

Nissan will begin production of the all-electric Nissan Leaf at the Smyrna assembly facility in 2012.