AIKO ISHIDA, Japan – Borrowing strategies from its Altima Hybrid production line in Smyrna, TN, Nissan’s Leaf electric car is built in a mixed format along with several other models, namely the Juke, Cube and Note, a tour of the facility reveals.
As at Smyrna, batteries, inverters, motors and battery recharging units are brought to the side of the trim and general assembly lines at Nissan’s Oppama plant, where they are installed at dedicated stations, bypassing fuel tank and engine installation for gasoline cars built on the line.
Batteries are produced at Nissan’s former Zama facility by Automotive Energy Supply, the auto maker’s joint battery venture with NEC, while motors and inverters are produced respectively at Nissan’s Yokohama engine plant and Calsonic Kansei’s Saitama plant.
Battery rechargers, as is the case with Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV electric car, are supplied by Kyoto-based Nichicon.
The Oppama plant has two assembly lines, each producing a car every minute, or more than 200,000 per year. At present, every sixth car moving down the Leaf line is a Leaf.
The plant’s second line assembles the Tiida, Tiida Latio, Sylphy and Note.
Through December, Nissan had produced 1,000 Leafs and currently is building them at a rate of about 2,000 per month. By the end of March, the auto maker hopes to double output to 4,000 units. At that point, every third car would be a Leaf and cumulative production of the model would reach 10,000 units.
Nissan expects Leaf sales to total 6,000 units in Japan in fiscal 2010, ending March 31.
After assembly is completed, the cars are run through a series of diagnostic tests before they leave the line.