Nissan Ramps LEAF Assembly in U.S.

On Wednesday, Nissan (NASDAQOTH: NSANY  ) announced that it will begin assembling its 2013 model year LEAF all-electric cars at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

Previously, the company had manufactured batteries for the LEAF at an adjacent plant -- the largest such lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the U.S. -- while manufacturing traditional internal combustion engine cars at the car plant. Going forward, Nissan says it will be assembling the LEAF on the same manufacturing line used to assemble Altima and Maxima sedans.

Nissan also operates an electric motor plant in nearby Decherd, Tenn. Thus, the Japanese company says, it has "truly ... localized U.S. manufacturing of the LEAF's major components across the board." The company's stated goal is to be manufacturing 85% of its U.S. sales volume in North America by 2015 -- both as a way of appealing to "Made in the USA" buyers, and also in order to "reduce exposure to fluctuations in foreign currency." The company says the addition of LEAF and battery assembly have resulted in the creation of more than 300 U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Nissan noted that after two years on the market, it has sold 19,500 LEAFs in the U.S., and 50,000 LEAFs worldwide. The company says these numbers make Nissan "the global leader in electric-vehicle sales."

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