While Nissan’s plans to bring electric and hybrid vehicles to the U.S (including the complete hybridization of its Infiniti brand) have been known for some time, it has now been discovered that Nissan will actually build those electric vehicles in the U.S.
According to Japan’s Nikkei business paper, Nissan will invest from ¥50 billion to ¥100 billion (about $500 million to $1 billion) in the U.S. to prepare for the production of electric vehicles and advanced batteries. The new assembly lines will be built in Smyrna, Tenn., where Nissan’s North American operations are based. The facility will have a capacity of between 50,000 and 100,000 cars by 2012, when Nissan intends to have the plant produce a small electric passenger car.
An unnamed product planning official told Motor Trend earlier this year that a plug-in electric car would arrive in the U.S. next year, with an 80 kW electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Nissan’s luxury brand, Infiniti, is also on track to hybridize its entire lineup within the next few years.
Nissan’s decision to invest in production of electric cars in the U.S. is largely due to incentives. The Japanese automaker has applied for about $1 billion in low-interest loans from the U.S. government available to companies producing “green” vehicles. Nikkei says Nissan will receive approval for the loans soon, citing an unidentified source familiar with the matter.
Back home in Japan, Nissan plans to have about 50,000 electric cars rolling off assembly lines by next fall, if Nikkei’s predictions hold true.