Ahead Of Rush For 2018 LEAF, Nissan To Expand Battery Factory In Tennessee

OCT 15 2017 BY MARK KANE 38

Nissan is expanding its lithium-ion battery plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, ahead of the introduction of the 2018 LEAF with 40 kWh battery packs.  An offering that Nissan expects will at least double existing sales globally.

2018 Nissan LEAF battery

The expansion of the 475,000-square-foot battery plant, which was built in 2012, will not be huge – just 26,450 square feet; which again sounds more like a capacity adjustment for the new LEAF and future products (c’mon CUV we know you have hiding Nissan).

The Nissan’s battery business, and the plant itself, will be officially acquired by GSR Capital over the next couple months.  The Chinese investment fund bought Nissan’s entire global battery business in August.

Since 2012, Nissan has produced more than 90,000 LEAF battery packs in Smyrna. In 2015 facility employed around 400 workers.

When Nissan originally planned the U.S. battery factory, production was expected to reach up to 150,000-200,000 battery packs annually, which of course never happened.  To date, the facility had yet to be tooled up to build much more than 20% of its capacity.   The LEAF sales record for the US was set in 2014, when 30,200 copies were sold.

“Neither Nissan nor GSR have made announcements of new job creation at the battery plant at this stage,” said Nissan spokesperson Brian Brockman (via the Tennessan), who noted that the battery plant will remain an important partner for Nissan “as we deepen our focus on designing and producing market-leading electric vehicles.”

With more than 8,400 people works at the Smyrna factory today, it is likely many of the jobs needed to produce more batteries can be found internally.

Editor’s Note:  It is our assumption that Nissan will be using LG Chem batteries for the longer range, ~60 kWh/225 mile that arrives later next year as a 2019 model year offering (the ID Concept’s 60 kWh battery was co-developed with LG Chem), and that Nissan’s deal to sell GSR its battery business is also contingent upon them being the sole battery provider (40 kWh) for the 2018 model year LEAF.

Below:  Video of the Smyrna facility from just after its launch in April of 2013

source: Tennessean

Categories: Nissan

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38 Comments on "Ahead Of Rush For 2018 LEAF, Nissan To Expand Battery Factory In Tennessee"

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More than 30,000 Nissan Leaf deliveries in the US in 2018 is very likely, right?

I would think hell ya!

Here’s to hoping they continue the no charge to charge program just to piss of off SparkEV 😉

ol Sparkie will be out there with picket signs protesting.

It’d be interesting to see how many people were swayed by NCTC. It was one of the key reasons I picked up a new 2015 instead of buying used.

I don’t use DCQC much, but when I do, I don’t want to be charged usury rates.

Usury rates, like $.50 + per kW of Public Fast Charger juice. Kind of a deal breaker for those of us who can only Level 1 charge at home. I’m going to re-up the Leaf Lease every Two years, for the NCTC deal, while it is offered.

I was wondering why you only have a regular outlet at home. Otherwise, you have a solid plan as to the excellent Nissan offering to pay for charging. Smart!

Thanks to those few free charging Bolts, I don’t wait for Leaf and i3 anymore. Last time I waited for Leaf seems like months ago; it’s always Bolt.

I suspect same will happen with new Leaf. Some initial euphoria will have newbies trying to use DCFC, but once they realize that they must wait an hour for Bolt and another hour to charge due to bigger battery, they will stay away.

Unless, of course, if they work for ridesharing service, in which case they’ll be competing (fighting?) for DCFC use with Bolts. Meanwhile, guys who need them for long trips, even Bolts and Leafs, will be squeezed out to long waits.

Free charging SUCKS!!!

I think it is going to sell very well.

I thought Nissan was exiting the battery making business?

They spun it off but it doesn’t change the fact that they use the batteries from those factories. The re-org just allows the battery company to sell to to other manufacturers if needed.

The original setup had Nissan allying with battery maker NEC to create a subsidiary company, AESC, which made batteries for the Leaf and (I think) for some other Nissan vehicles.

I don’t see why selling some of the AESC factories to China would make it any easier — or harder — to sell some of AESC’s product to other EV makers.

Now, apparently there was some unused capacity at both the Tennessee and the UK battery factory, so with short-term thinking, it might have made sense to sell off one of them. But to sell off one and expand the other… how does that make sense, especially since Nissan exec’s have got to realize that EV production will rapidly increase in the near future?

Either I’m missing an important piece of this puzzle, or there is some serious mis-management going on at the top level at Nissan. (It’s entirely possible that both are true at the same time!)

You don’t need to own the battery factory to purchase its products. The decision to sell (or not) has nothing to do with whether they are ramping up production or not. You seem to have those two independent decisions tangled up in your head.

“You don’t need to own the battery factory to purchase its products.”

No, but you need to own the battery factory to be able to control its production, so you don’t wind up production constrained by lack of battery supply, as both Tesla and Nissan have been in the past. That’s why both Nissan and Tesla partnered with battery makers to build battery factories, to allow them to control their own battery supply… instead of being dependent on 3rd party suppliers.

“You seem to have those two independent decisions tangled up in your head.”

No, I think it’s pretty clear I understand the situation better than you do.

+1

Ha ha. Tesla fanboi mistakes Elon marketing for drops of economic wisdom.

Either find something good to say or be quiet.

You guys are the ones trolling a Leaf article. If you get triggered when we laugh back at your blind idol worship, you can easily go back to your Tesla fanbois and friends safe space.

When Nissan originally planned the U.S. battery factory, production was expected to reach up to 150,000-200,000 battery packs annually, which of course never happened.

Wait, I thought Tesla was the only company that was serious about EVs and making batteries for them. /s

On a more serious note, is it really a big mystery as to why the rest of the auto industry hasn’t plunged money into battery factories (until recently, anyway) when considering how far of the mark Nissan was?

how far off the mark their battery packs were is more like it

I think the biggest reason a ton of companies aren’t pouring serious money into lithium ion batteries is that everyday they read about a another “breakthrough”. You don’t want to be the guy who built a huge facility to build typewriters, just before the personal computer was released.

Is the guy’s name Elon?

menorman:

“Wait, I thought Tesla was the only company that was serious about EVs and making batteries for them. /s”

I’m sure that will come as a big surprise to BYD. 😀

“On a more serious note, is it really a big mystery as to why the rest of the auto industry hasn’t plunged money into battery factories…”

No; sadly, it’s not a mystery. It’s exactly the same reason that Eastman Kodak ignored digital cameras until it was too late. The same thing happens in every disruptive tech revolution. If there is an exception, I don’t know about it.

It’s merely quite disappointing, rather than mystifying, to see so many auto makers showing such short-term thinking; to see them bury their heads in the sand and ignore the inevitability of the EV revolution, and the year-over-year exponentially increasing demand for EV batteries that we will see over the next several years, starting in 2020 if not before.

It won’t be long until we see reports of auto makers whining “We would make more EVs, but there’s no place to get the batteries for them!” Like nobody at those companies can see that coming.

Auto companies are already used to signing supply agreements in advance. They’re not going to be surprised like you say. They don’t expect to be able to get 200,000 tires in the next year without signing a supplier agreement a year in advance. They won’t expect to be able to get batteries that way either.

And when they go to LG Chem (or whomever) a year in advance to secure battery supplies the supplier will price it accordingly and then build out capacity as needed. Just as the company would do if doing it in-house.

Suppliers aren’t worse at adding battery making capacity than automakers are.

unlucky said:

“They’re not going to be surprised like you say.”

Ah, then perhaps I should have said something such as ironically noting “Like nobody at those companies can see that coming.”

Oh, wait… that’s exactly what I said.

It would be helpful, Unlucky, if when you respond to one of my comments, you would respond to what I actually said, and not put words in my mouth.

I read your post as saying they didn’t see EVs coming. Not as seeing that they need to contract for parts in advance.

There is no chance they will be surprised by the need to contract for parts in advance. They’re not going to say there is no place to get the batteries because to them making an EV is a multi-year process and that leaves them plenty of time to give advance notice to suppliers that they need cells and to negotiate to buy them.

If they are surprised, it’ll be simply be by the demand for EVs, not by a lack of available cell supply for a project they started over two years ago.

If their batteries did not degrade so quickly and had a better range == maybe they would have sold more…

And if it had more range, and if it didn’t look butt-ugly, and if it didn’t drive like a Prius…

Thankfully these are all addressed with the new model.

Hey guys stop dissin my Leaf. My feelings are getting hurt.

I don’t know about you, but I am used to it by now. Only Two Years in myself, the Leaf “dissin” seems to be always ON! And, for more than a few valid reasons with the IEVs crowd.

I drive a Prius and the Leaf is nothing like a Prius. People on these forums must drive sports cars, which they keep comparing the Leaf performance to. If you compare it to a like type vehicle then it has comparably better performance, especially in city traffic.
And unlike the ICE, it does it seem less my and without fuss, rather than the noisy, angry sounding ICE.

Hmmm…

First (or is that second?) Nissan builds two new battery factories, in the UK and in Tennessee, to enable the company to build enough Leafs to satisfy market demand.

Next, after a few years, Nissan has a surprisingly public internal debate over whether to shutter its battery factories and buy battery cells for the Leaf from LG Chem, or to continue to make its own. After some time, Nissan apparently decided to do some of both: Buy some cells from LG Chem, shutter its UK battery factory, and continue to make cells at its Tennessee plant. (I seem to recall seeing a news report that Nissan was going to go ahead and reopen its UK battery factory, but I’m not sure that actually happened.

Recently, Nissan said it was going to sell all its battery factories to China.

But now… now… Nissan says it’s going to expand its Tennessee battery factory!

So tell me: Is it that I’m confused, or is Nissan?? O_o

It’s possible they are moving out of making cells but know they will have to increase pack building capacity. It’s unfortunate that the term “battery” is used to mean each of these things at different times.

Good point. Maybe IEV can clarify that part, it makes sense that could be the case.

At 01:47, the guy says the LEAF was “…the only mass-produced, zero-emission EV in the US…”. Hasn’t he heard of Tesla?

What is with the moronic music in the background?

The LEAF module being shown at the end looks a different format to the UK versions. Longer and wider and a different can design.

I think the new LEAF will sell fairly well. $20k-$24k after incentives depending on state, perhaps even less after negotiations for a well-made 150 mile car. 150 miles isn’t great but it’s likely good enough for a fair amount of people. At the same time the charging infrastructure is coming along nicely so that is becoming less and less of an issue. It will definitely be one of the top 5 sellers in 2018, at least as long as the incentives last.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I think the LEAF will sell boatloads. the smaller pack selling more in quantity than the big pack.
I know many LEAF owners and they’re only looking at the sub 200 mile version saying they don’t need that much range.
Many say the smaller pack LEAF will allow them to charge only twice a week rather than every day now.

I’m surprised Nissan decided to expand the plant ahead of time, given it supposedly already supports building 150K-200K cars/year (admittedly, that was 24kWh per car, but still). Here’s hoping they end up needing much of the capacity!

The deal with GSR Capital was canceled in July 2018, as they just did not pay.
https://insideevs.com/nissan-stuck-with-aesc-as-sale-of-battery-unit-to-gsr-was-canceled/

Let’s see, what happens now. It’s interesting, how this affects product development at Renault-Nissan.