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

JAN 2 2013 BY JAY COLE 30

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.

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

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David Murray

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

Jay Cole

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.

Bonaire

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.

backstroke

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.

Bonaire

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.

Stuart22

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…

Ibuildevs

Stuart,

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.

Doug Liser

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.

Neutron Flux
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… Read more »
gmathol

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

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

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.

Bonaire

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.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

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.

evnow

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.

Bonaire

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 🙂

Eric Cote

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.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

The bill included also averted the dairy cliff.

evnow

They have been printing money for 20 years.

SPIKE

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

BV

with 2013 leaf I have now

Price and Rollout out anxiety

Stuart22

Clearly haiku is not something at which you excel…

James
2013 has a lot of promise to it — HAPPY NEW YEAR, guys! Good to plug in to InsideEVs.com 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 world! 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… Read more »
Jay Cole

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.

MrEnergyCzar

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

MrEnergyCzar

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

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

Bill Howland

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.

Jay Cole

Happy New Year Bill!

mike suding

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

Jay Cole

I don’t see any errors, (=

/thanks, fixed

Herm

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