Nissan was one of the three recipients in the first round of low interest loans through the U.S. Department of Energy's ATVM program along with Ford and Tesla. Nissan will be getting $1.6 billion from the program that will be used to re-tool part of its Smyrna, Tennessee factory to build electric cars and lithium ion batteries. Out of that amount, apparently over $1 billion will be needed just for the battery production capacity. The battery plant will consist of three production modules each of which is capable of producing 54,000 batteries.
The U.S. battery plant joins a Japanese facility that is starting up in 2010. In addition to these facilities, Nissan and French partner Renault will be building electric cars in Europe beginning in 2011. Because battery packs are heavy, it makes sense to build the packs close to where they will be installed in vehicles. As Renault-Nissan expand production, the alliance is also considering adding as many as four battery plants on the continent. No specific commitments have yet been made for locations yet.