Nissan's 3rd LEAF Assembly Facility Worldwide Starts Production
Today, the LEAF is officially a global car, as Nissan has started production of the "new and improved" 2013 LEAF at its Sunderland, UK assembly facility.
"This new Nissan LEAF, incorporating more than 100 updates, is now rolling off the line at the company's record-breaking Sunderland Plant, using advanced lithium-ion batteries manufactured in Nissan's new UK Battery Plant."
Combined with the adjacent battery facility that was opened this past January, the Sunderland assembly facility has the ability to produce up to 50,000 LEAFs per year, with the battery plant pack capacity set at 60,000.
The cost of bringing LEAF production to Europe was pegged at £420 million ($636 million USD) by Nissan, and brings 500 new jobs to the facilities. Overall, Nissan expects the Euro-LEAF production to bring 2,000 jobs to the region.
Obviously, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron got a hold of Nissan media's press notes ahead of time, as he pretty much re-read the talking points:
"Nissan's record breaking year last year is a success story for UK volume car manufacturing and demonstrates how our automotive industry is competing and thriving in the global race. I warmly welcome the production of the new electric LEAF model and battery plant at Sunderland. This £420 million investment, backed by Government, is supporting over 2,000 jobs in our automotive sector including more than 500 at Nissan in Sunderland, helping people in the area who want to work hard and get on."
A Bloke Installs New 17" Wheels On A New LEAF SL. Which If One Of "More Than 100 Updates" To The EV For 2013
Now, that production has been re-allocated from the LEAF's home plant in Oppama, Japan, the price (as also in the US) has been slashed.
For 2013, the LEAF in the UK now starts £23,490 ($35,500 USD), and €25,990 ($33,200 USD) in France, after allowing for various rebates and grants.
Additionally, InsideEVs has learned that there is a new leasing program in the UK, with the base 2013 LEAF available from £239 per month ($360 USD). In the United States, LEAF entry level pricing was cut by $6,400, down to $28,800 for the "S model" trim.
New LEAF production will only enhance Nissan Sunderland's reputation for being the mother of all plants in Europe, as it employees over 6,000 workers, and last year produced 510,572 vehicles. The first factory in the UK to pass the 500K benchmark. At the dealership level, Nissan has expanded their footprint to over 1,400 dealers now selling the LEAF in Europe, which is up from just 200 ending out 2011.
Sunderland Workers Seem Happy To Begin Domestic LEAF Production In The UK (via TheSun)
Even though Nissan will only have sold about 57,000 LEAFs by month's end worldwide, they are expecting local manufacturing, and an aggressive price cut for the 2013 model year will greatly improve sales results worldwide (which will evidently be first realized in the US in March, with over 1,900 sold).
Worldwide production capacity (if needed) is now set at 250,000 LEAFs, with Sunderland and Oppama able to build a combined 100,000 units, and Smyrna, TN, 150,000. Although, it should be noted that the US factory is currently only "tooled" up to build a fraction of that amount, at an estimated 50,000 units as well.