Local Sourcing of US Materials for Nissan LEAF Drives Costs Down (w/video)

DEC 12 2013 BY MARK KANE 15

Nissan LEAF drivetrain

Nissan LEAF drivetrain

Even after Nissan moved assembly of North American LEAFs to Smyrna, Tennessee in late 2012, most of the high-value components for the vehicle still came from abroad.

But the Japanese company is moving forward to localize the production in the U.S. and provides us the example of sourcing magnetic wire for electric motors from Superior Essex, based in Fort Wayne, Ind. and magnets processed in Oklahoma.

“Perhaps the biggest example of localizing the LEAF in North America is the company’s new source for magnetic wire. Before, special magnetic wire was being shipped in crates from Japan. The wire is heavy and bulky. Now a company called Superior Essex, based in Fort Wayne, Ind., supplies all the copper wire that goes into the Nissan LEAF electric motor.”

On one side, this helps bring costs down, and on the other side it helps the local economy.

Xavier Mann, director of international sales at Superior Essex stated:

“You do not have to keep a large inventory here, which also costs you money, and you do not have to wait weeks or even months to get your material for production.”

Coral Kanies, Nissan Decherd Production Manager commented:

“Bringing that production here and those jobs here, it is better for everyone.”

“The copper wire is one huge component (of the electric motor). The magnets are the other huge component, and those are processed in Oklahoma, so having that all right here in North America really helps our lead times so we can supply this LEAF long term, put the money back into making advancements in the car.”

What is interesting, according to Nissan, localizing magnetic wire supply took about two years. One year for the quality testing and a second year to set up thelogistics. By the end of this year, Nissan’s electric motor facility in Decherd will use only U.S.-made magnetic wire.

“Nissan’s goal by 2015 is to assemble 85 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. within North America.”

Categories: Nissan, Videos


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15 Comments on "Local Sourcing of US Materials for Nissan LEAF Drives Costs Down (w/video)"

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There is something missing in this article…

Oh yes, you did not use the term “magnetic wire” enough. 😉

If Nissan can do it the other auto companies have no excuse.

What is the difference between magnetic wire and say, copper wire? It’s the same thing as far as I know. It only becomes magnetic when a current is pushed through it. It’s the magnetic magnets that make this magnetic. 😛

Most likely because of the non-conductive coating.

Oh right, forgot about that. But doesn’t that coating get applied only after it has been coiled in the motor and not out of the factory. I thought that it also helps to make the wire stiffer and also hold the wire in place so they don’t slide around because of the current going through them. But even then, it isn’t a huge difference, just different terminology. It is still copper wire with the same properties as copper wire

The coating has to be on before they are wounded up. The short between wires will creat heat and motor noise…

Except that Nissan is fully committed to EV sales and plans to make a profit. Most of the other companies are doing it just to comply with laws and sell the minimum amount required.

Hopefully all this will translate to another cost reduction with the MY2014 LEAF which will further help LEAF sales.

But I think most LEAF owners are really waiting for news of Nissan’s “HOT” battery along with increases in energy storage.

Yeah, I’d say the price is right already. What is now needed more than anything to push sales more into the masses is more range.

More range will definitely make the car appealing to more people, but as can be seen in Georgia with Atlanta one of the LEAFs hottest markets, the state’s $5k rebate really helps push metal.

I personally really want to see at least 30% more range (32 kWh battery) as it would make a lot of trips a lot easier. That would make 100 miles/charge possible for most drivers, enhance QC usability since the larger battery should be able to add miles faster. On a 50 kW QC station you might actually be able to get a 75% charge in the same time you get a 80% charge with the current car.

While we’re at it, might as well bump up the max L2 charge rate to 40A from 30A – same as Tesla. In an hour you can pick up almost 10 kWh – good for another 30-40 miles depending on your driving efficiency.

It would be interesting to see them split out the battery options, the current battery carries on as standard fitment on the ‘S’ model but an improved, longer range battery/chemistry becomes a $3,500-5,000 option on the middle trim and standard on the top spec car. Of course that would probably wreck their production/inventory efficiencies… hmm.

Things to help the Leaf:

1. Range boost to 100 miles (EPA rated)
2. Fast charging infrastructure that is priced reasonably (50kW Chademo at something like 20c/kWh)
3. Include 6.6kW charging and more efficient heat pump in base model w/o price increase.

Nissan continues to developing the car and engineer improvements. They have consolidated the motor/controller/inverter/charger/differential into one compact bolt in, front drive unit; The car’s weakness is still the battery. Hopefully Nissan will have a “Better Battery” for the Leaf before too long.

I’d still be OK with an air-cooled battery… if it gave the LEAF a 180-mile range.

C’mon Nissan! You can do it!

So it takes 2 years to source copper wire, makes you wonder how fast Nissian (or anyone else for that matter) can really scale up EV production. I remain to be convinced that EV sales are constrained by anything other than supply.

-Check out CHadeMo growth, on Plugshare if you haven’t lately. -Northeast adding 44kw Fuji at a rate that could help Nissan (and Tesla)
-Nissan sees the macroeconomic tea leaves of Abenomics attempt to lower the yen. More manufacturing in the US will mean better profits upon repatriation. The BOJ has inflation in mind.