Are you one of the eager 20,000 customers to sneak onto the Nissan Leaf’s early reservation list? You’ll be happy to learn production is on time and on schedule and your new electric vehicle will soon be assembled at the Oppama plant in Japan.
The Oppama facility’s Leaf line has been specifically tooled for the electric car with battery packs taking the place where fuel tanks are normally put into place. Electric motors and inverters are located where engines are usually installed and the assembly line will eventually serve as the model for future Leaf production locations in Smyrna, Tennessee, and Nissan’s Sunderland plant in England. In this early stage of the Leaf’s life, Oppama possesses an annual production capacity of 50,000 vehicles.
As the Leaf gains global ground, Nissan will spread build operations to the United States in late 2012 and England in early 2013. Smyrna will have a capacity of 150,000 units at full strength; Sunderland will be able to churn out another 50,000 for the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.
“Oppama will serve as the ‘Mother Plant’ for the production of Nissan Leaf,” said Hidetoshi Imazu, Nissan’s executive VP of manufacturing. “We will use all of the know-how and learnings from Oppama to ensure the highest quality at all sites that manufacture Nissan EVs.”
Nissan has already put a halt to Leaf reservations in the U.S. after reaching its 20,000 customer milestone. Nissan plans to offer a $349-per-month lease for early adopters, ala the Volt, although this price includes the $7500 federal tax credit (which becomes Nissan’s federal tax credit). Exports to the U.S. start in November and Leafs will be Europe-bound by December.