US Production Of Nissan LEAF Not Started In December. 2013 Model To Debut At NAIAS


2013 Model Year LEAFs All Will Be Built In Smyrna, TN

It is only a short delay, but for the longest time, almost since the US production had been announced for the LEAF, Nissan has been saying that domestic production of the Japanese all-electric car would begin in December of 2012.  Didn’t quite happen.

New 2013 Model Year LEAF (Pictured: New Top Of The Line SV Model w/Optional 17" Wheels)

Checking the calendar, it is now 2013; and having spoke to people familiar with operations in Smryna, TN (where the car will be built), we can tell you that commercial production has yet to begin, and the plant is still doing final preparations and “trial runs” of 2013 model year LEAFs.

This is not an unsurprising revelation, as our inquiries about the plant status early in December was met without any real answers about when the start of production would actually occur.

Thankfully, this is not really a bad news story as there is no serious issues or re-thinking being done by Nissan about the LEAF here…and only a small timeline miss.

A Nissan representative has assured us that the “ramping up” is almost complete and the production will happen very shortly in “early 2013.” 

The assembly facility’s nearby battery plant has already begun production of battery cells for Job 1 on the LEAF, which is now (unofficially) expected to begin later this month.

The Nissan LEAF Makes Its Debut At The 2010 NAIAS (seen here with Mark Perry, Ex-Director Of Product Planning At Nissan)

As for the new model year LEAF, which will offer a greater range and a cheaper entry level model (that had been previously announced in Japan), we can report it will make its US-spec debut on Tuesday, January 15th, at the Detroit Auto Show NAIAS.

We suspect the new US pricing structure, and maybe (big maybe) some updated range metrics, will be available at the same time.

Currently (as understood by InsideEVs), US dealers have the ability to order 2013 model year inventory from Nissan.  That includes the ability to order a single unit of the new entry level “S” model (although dealers have not been cost pricing either).  Dealerships have been told to expect delivery of the 2013s approximately around the end of February.

Category: Nissan

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30 responses to "US Production Of Nissan LEAF Not Started In December. 2013 Model To Debut At NAIAS"
  1. David Murray says:

    Well, at least we know WHEN they will announce the new specs.. thats a start.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Just wanted to add that Nissan is very confident in start of production and shipping units shortly. There is no ‘hidden elephants’ here on this one (imo)

      Personal opinion only, I think it was sexier for Nissan to say US production starting in 2012 (December) in the past…but as the deadline got closer, it just made sense to not start-up then immediately go into holiday shutdown.

  2. Bonaire says:

    Isn’t it interesting that they did the whole plant in Tenn. and then the Yen has tanked against the USD and the cost of importing them would be quite a bit less now than it was when the Tenn. plant was started? I have to wonder if the imported model will cost less than the one made here in the states.

    1. backstroke says:

      While the Yen is weaker now, it still has a long way to go to reach levels of only a few years ago. So, no, manufacturing in the States will still be cheaper IMO.

      1. Bonaire says:

        I like the Leaf. Don’t love it. But if it looked better, I’d consider it as a stablemate to my Volt. We do a lot of local driving and my wife doesn’t drive my Volt (I want her to) but I think she’d like to have her own EV. I may take a look at the Ford offerings as they are the closest dealership to our house. Other than the Korean brands which are big sellers around my rural area due to their price.

        1. Stuart22 says:

          You might consider the Spark EV as your BEV. It seems GM put some effort into it, and its 400 lb/ft torque rating ought to keep your wife smiling…

          1. Ibuildevs says:


            You do know that the 400lb/ft rating is with the gear reduction right? I find it funny that no one else seems to catch onto this marketing ploy. I’m 100% behind electric but I hate silly games like this. Since they don’t tell us the gear ratio on that axial drive reduction we have no way of knowing what the actual motor torque is.

        2. Doug Liser says:

          We have a Leaf. The car has been excellent. Zero defects, one trip to the shop in 18 months (my kids jammed a seatbelt receiver with who knows what). Nissan and Tesla are totally devoted to EVs; everyone else is playing around.

          1. Neutron Flux says:

            I have had a 2011 Leaf since about May 2011. I have some issues with its design & programming. If you commute near the edge of range & only have 115 to charge with during work day it could take 9 hours of charge to get home, provided you don’t use heater at all. In cold environments no fun. Programming of Leaf is not Smart: I you program pre heat after fully charged it uses battery even though still plugged in reducing range, not smart enough to power heater off grid! Also only activates environmental controls to last setting, cannot program temp or duration so if you run AC in afternoon better turn heat back on B4 U shut down or will get a cool reception in AM. When taking into dealers for firmware updates they wipe all programs & don’t tell you so when you get home & plug in it immediately starts charging @ peak rate bad PR.
            Low battery indication lies. Just before it comes on you have around 10 miles of range @ current speed & conditions. 2 to 3 miles in it quickly counts down 4 miles so you are told you have 0 when you don’t. Apparently this was there way of trying to build up reserve without building up reserve. Should Preprogram from start but then it would not show the extra 4 miles. Trying to bave it both ways, disingenious if U ask me. If I could go back in time I would have waited till price dropped & got a Volt. The initial 6K cost more than promised during dedvelopement turned me off. Can’t tell you have lost capacity until too late based on bars. First bar does not drop until you have lost significant range, the next bar after drops at around a third of the first. Monitor your startup range to determine if losing capacity after full charge, when it starts to drop, might be time to sell B4 the bar starts advertising. I bought hoping improved battery tech would come out. Still waiting on lab to production implementation on some new higher density designs using nano structures and gas to create higher ion density. Tracking my experiences, range limits & affects of speed on range on FB shared.

            1. gmathol says:

              In colder climates the Leaf runs below 40 miles with one charge. Just not practical.

    2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      While the dollar has strengthened against the Yen it’s, still weaker than all but one week in 2009 and weaker than any time earlier than that at least back to 1996. So while Japanese exporters might be breathing a sigh of relief they won’t be jumping for joy.

      If they were just assembling in the USA it’s be one thing, but they’re shifting manufacturing both of the battery and motor to the USA. Given the high labor and energy costs in Japan the only way Japanese production would be cheaper is if productivity were really poor in the USA. So, it might, just might, have allowed Nissan to delay the start of production a little, but giving the realities of cost and given Nissan’s consist dollarization policy there’s absolutely no reason to think Nissan’s faking it, LG-style. If anything, they’d be holding off to clear the decks of the 2012.

      1. Bonaire says:

        Production in the USA will be quite high if the market does not absorb what they put into the factory spread out among the units produced. Let’s say Leaf sales are 2000/month for the next 3 years. And the factory cost $200 Million to build-out. The costs associated with depreciation and all that make the units’ embody more costs when made in the USA until all of the work to build out the factory and setup for production is washed through the system. I doubt Leafs will sell as they have “assumed” last year (what was it, 100,000 per year to USA buyers by 2014??) that number is very unreachable – and this plant’s embodied costs seem a little troubling. Unless they can make other high volume cars like the Altima to supplement the line.

        At last year’s Philly auto show, I asked a Nissan guy if the USA plant will allow Leaf prices to drop to be more affordable for us. He said no.

        1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

          The money is already spent on the factory and it was built with a low-cost loan from the US taxpayer.

          As for expected sales, it depends on the improvements to the Leaf. If it’s like the Japanese model it’ll be 5% lighter, have all heated seats and have a heat pump instead of just using resistive heat. Those should improve the rated range, dramatically improve winter range in many locations and, most importantly, improve the efficiency and lower the average discharge rate on the battery. Then add in the fact it’s now manufactured in the USA (potentially with a relatively high NA parts content) and there’s good reason to believe sales will increase significantly.

    3. evnow says:

      When Leaf was announced yen was about 95 to a dollar. At that time they thought it was good to build in TN. Now Yen has gone to 87 from below 80s. They may regret the decision if Yen hits 110 or so. Something that has not happened for a long time.

      1. Bonaire says:

        They’re in money-printing mode. But, so are we. We’ll watch and see how things pan out.

        At least milk isn’t going to $7 🙂

        1. ClarksonCote says:

          LEAFs aside, I thought milk was still going to $7, isn’t that an issue separate of the fiscal cliff debacle, that didn’t get any attention?

          I might be behind on the news though.

          1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

            The bill included also averted the dairy cliff.

        2. evnow says:

          They have been printing money for 20 years.

      2. SPIKE says:

        The major reason Nissan is locally manufacturing the LEAF in the US and UK is to lessen the impact of currency exchange rates.

  3. BV says:

    with 2013 leaf I have now

    Price and Rollout out anxiety

    1. Stuart22 says:

      Clearly haiku is not something at which you excel…

  4. James says:

    2013 has a lot of promise to it —
    HAPPY NEW YEAR, guys! Good to
    plug in to for all the nitty-gritty
    on whats-what ( nice pun eh? ). This year on
    my wish list is some video action – possibly
    test drives and maybe even a factory tour or
    inside look at the battery biz? Even if that’s not
    in the budget – I know 2013 will be a great year
    to keep tabs on the blossoming EV-car-with-a-plug

    I just finished blowing some LEAVES off my driveway
    that had frozen solid – so I’m not exactly in the mood
    to bloviate re: LEAFs… But it’s a very interesting story
    developing whether or not the price drop will mean
    increased sales – I too have considered a LEAF as
    a third car to basically do all those close-in chores
    my wife now does with the Prii.

    Today – ( Jan 2nd ) My local Toyota sales guy called
    me out of the blue and wants me to come in and
    grab a PIP for the day to see what I think of it —
    I told him since yesterday and today were the coldest
    days on record for the year up here – perhaps a
    PIP hands-on might be better suited for June?
    We had a little chat about AER and battery size,
    and when I mentioned Volt he suddenly had to
    rush off —- I’m certainly enthused to see what
    Toyota has up it’s sleeve to combat the new product
    at Ford and to see if GM can just smack a third
    seating position in the Volt and make it a non-issue.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Thanks James. We might be able to do a little videography at some point this year (that would be a nice addition). But probably looking to get the full time writing staff expanded to 5 before we get serious about branching out like that. Although a weekly video test drive review segment would be a hoot to have.

  5. MrEnergyCzar says:

    Is the Leaf still getting the roughly 10 mile range boost?


    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      They’re staying tight-lipped until the reveal in Detroit.

  6. Bill Howland says:

    First off Happy New Year Jay.

    Secondly, I’d be interested to know Nissan’s manufacturing cost of their batteries and drive train, now that they’re manufacturing everything themselves.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Happy New Year Bill!

  7. mike suding says:

    Dear author, Minor typo. I think you meant very shortly in “early 2013.” (not shorty)

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I don’t see any errors, (=

      /thanks, fixed

  8. Herm says:

    Would it be possible for Nissan USA to export Leafs to Japan?.. after all the ships return empty