• Jan 30th 2011 at 12:35PM
  • 17
Current image of Nissan's Smyrna, TN battery plant

Way back in June of 2009, Nissan announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) had approved the automaker's request for $1.6 billion in loans. Nissan designated the funds for updating its Smyrna, TN factory. Once renovations are complete, the Smyrna plant should be able to crank out 150,000 electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, and up to 200,000 lithium-ion battery packs per year.

In May of 2010, Nissan utilized the DOE funding and broke ground on the Smyrna battery plant. Now, some nine months after the groundbreaking ceremony, Nissan announced that construction of the facility is on schedule and completion is still slated for late next year. The foundation for the 1.3-million-square-foot plant has been poured, portions of the structure's exterior walls have been erected and sections of the roof are set in place. Once complete, the sprawling facility will become Nissan's first lithium-ion battery plant outside of Japan and one of the largest facilities of its type in the U.S.

[Source: Nissan]
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Nissan Progresses Construction of Electric Vehicle Battery Plant in Tennessee

- Smyrna facility to be one of the largest electric vehicle battery plants in the U.S. -

Construction is progressing on Nissan's manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn., which will produce lithium-ion batteries to power the Nissan LEAF zero-emission vehicle. The all-electric Nissan LEAF will be produced at Nissan's vehicle assembly facility in Smyrna beginning in 2012.

The foundation is laid, structure being erected and roof being installed on the vehicle battery manufacturing plant, which at 1.3 million square feet at full capacity will be one of the largest in the country. The battery plant will be capable of producing 200,000 advanced-technology batteries annually. It is located adjacent to Nissan's vehicle assembly plant, which is being retooled to accommodate production of Nissan LEAF and will be capable of producing 150,000 electric cars annually. Combined, Nissan LEAF and battery production will create up to 1,300 U.S. manufacturing jobs when the plants are operating at full capacity.

"Nissan is making significant strides to be one of the largest producers of electric vehicles and batteries in the United States," said Carlos Tavares, Chairman, Nissan Americas. "We applaud President Obama's goal of bringing 1 million electric vehicles to U.S. roads by 2015 and look forward to doing our part to ensure that many of those vehicles, and the batteries that power them, are built in the United States."

Combined, the construction of the battery plant and modification of the Smyrna manufacturing facility represent an investment of up to $1.7 billion, which initially is being supported by a U.S. Department of Energy loan for 80 percent of that investment, up to $1.4 billion.

The loan was issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, a $25 billion program authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The program is designed to accelerate the development of vehicles and technologies that increase U.S. energy independence, create cleaner means of transportation and stimulate the American economy.

Sales of the Nissan LEAF – the world's first all-electric, zero-emission vehicle available for the mass market – began in select markets in the United States in December 2010. It will be available nationwide in 2012, when production expands to the Tennessee facility. The Nissan LEAF initially is being produced in Oppama, Japan, and will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries being produced in Zama, Japan. The Renault-Nissan Alliance also will produce lithium-ion batteries in Cacia, Portugal, and Sunderland, UK, as well as in Renault's Flins plant in France.

In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program 2010 and has been recognized as a 2010 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More information on Nissan in North America, the Nissan LEAF and zero emissions can be found at www.nissanusa.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Malign it as industrial policy if you like. But it has worked for China. And it is certainly better to spend government money that way than on a pointless war.
      • 3 Years Ago
      In the middle of a pretty serious recession President Obama has taken a lot of flack for trying to create jobs, not in the status quo industries that were stagnant and floundering, but in what is described as clean tech industries. The loans were not only to help Nissan build a plant, but to put Americans to work. I don't know how many people have been put to work building this Nissan plant, but a 1.3 million square foot factory had to have boosted their local economy. When it finishes being a construction industry employment bonanza, Nissan is sure to hire quite a few people to build automobiles. As a lot of our manufacturing fled the US, I personally think this is an awesome thing to do with my tax dollars. Far better than complaining without offering up a better solution.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They can certainly OEM packs for others.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good news if they run at capacity and Nissan sells those $4.5B of electric cars, not so good if they sell 60,000 a year, horrible if they sell 20,000 per year.

      • 4 Years Ago
      This sound like "Economy of Scale" which means Lower Prices and Greater Market Share for Nissan.

      Good News.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great news. Good to see some of the advanced technology vehicle money going to very advanced vehicles, not just somewhat more efficient gas crossovers and 160HP gas-powered compact cars.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder how this myth of government money persists. It's the people's money, taken by coercion. While I agree it's better to spend money on industry than war, it's better still for Nissan to invest their own money into a plant than my money.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ^ best rant... EVER!

        +10 points for the use of "furry porn"!
        • 4 Years Ago

        You clearly don't believe in our system of government. Not Congress, nor the President nor the Supreme Court have constitutional authority to run these kinds of loan programs. This is not zealotry. It's straight up illegal. Of course, these days we have elected officials who could care less about the Constitution. Funny considering that document is what provides the legal framework for them to be elected in the first place. No, it's you who isn't truly proud of being American. You and people like you who want to pray to the altar of big government. The United States grew faster, richer and more powerful than any nation in history because of true free market principles and the government staying out of the way of the people. Our nation is insolvent now. Call it what you will. Our GDP is not sufficient to continue spending at the rate we are. Our communist enemies own most of our bond debt. Fiat currency, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_money in case you're unfamiliar with the term) is a system that's destined to failure just like the Keynesian economic structure that our government has shifted us into.

        I'm not an extremist. I simply want our private sector to go back to work innovating and keeping our nation at the top of its game. Also, yes, all taxes are taken by coercion, even when they are just. I do pay taxes, and I understand the need for them. However, if our government were reduced to what they are legally mandated to do and legally RESTRICTED from doing, the amount of money in the hands of industry and individuals would easily be enough to create the kind of investment needed to kick start a lot of fledgling industries. And through fair, free and open markets, they would compete with one another.

        Perhaps instead of ad hominem attacks against me, a person you don't know and know nothing about despite your assumption that you do, you might read our Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the many other scholarly works done by both the framers of the Constitution and the men in charge of ratifying the Constitution. The country we've inherited is not what was created. Much of what we take for granted that the government does is completely illegal or so grossly a misinterpretation of the intent of the law if not the exact wording as to make one believe they simply don't care.

        On a lighter note, I agree with Joe. "Furry porn" was quite the funny use, even if at my expense, and even if it makes you look like an immature fool for attacking someone personally rather than disproving a position.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The reason why this "myth" persists is because the vast, overwhelming majority of your countrymen aren't interested in your childish semantic games over what to call taxes. We know well enough where taxes come from, because we pay them. We do so because we're Americans, we love being Americans, we see the advantages of being American, and we participate in our government by electing people who decide how to raise and spend these taxes how we see fit. While we aren't at all on the same page, we're perfectly alright with this peaceable system we have, and while we argue vociferously over how much to pay and what to do with it, we've no time for zealots who try to say that "all taxes are theft" or that "the people must seize all means of production". Revolutionaries don't interest us. They never really have.

        I know that for the self-obsessed zealot this can be hard, like not understanding why your friends and family don't share your obsession with collecting antique perfume bottles or furry porn, but it is what it is. If you really don't want to live in a nation where you pay taxes and your representatives then decide what to do with those taxes through a system of democratic legislation, there are other nations out there. Not any that really fulfill your individualist's utopia, but maybe some that come a little closer. I'd start with Somalia. Don't let the door hit your in the ass on your way out.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So apparently, not only the Congress and the Presidency, but the Supreme Court, given the sole final authority to interpret the constitution, hasn't interpreted it the way you like, so it's "illegal". Never mind the logical loophole there, this is plain, straight-up fantasyland. The Court rules all the time in ways that I find incredibly wrong or silly. But illegal? Of course not. Same goes with legislation I don't like. I still follow it, because it's the law, and I respect it even in my disagreement, and try to change it.

        Constitutional fetishizers like you rarely share an understanding of the constitution that is in alignment with the actual legal traditions and precedents of this country, and because you don't like the accepted interpretations, you take your ball and go home. You've so convinced yourself that you know without doubt whatever it was that the hallowed and very conveniently dead founders intended, and that this nation should be mired in the amber of your invention, that you literally refuse to accede to history. Our founders were generally a hell of a lot more agile thinkers then you, and a hell of a lot more open to revision of the constitution and laws then you are. That's why they included not only constitutional review through the courts, but the ability to actually amend the damned thing.

        But never mind doing the hard democratic work of convincing your fellow citizens to amend the constitution to make your wishes the law, you take the lazy route and decide yourself what the words mean, and like some religious fanatic carving a personality cult out of his mis-reading of the bible, you have no respect for precedent, tradition, and the weight of opinion of your fellow citizens. Since we don't see what you see, since the court doesn't see what you see, since our democratically elected representatives don't see what you see, you hold us in contempt.

        You may love America, buddy, but you sure as hell hate Americans.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's pretty clear that left wingers on here have not read the Constitution, nor are they familiar with precedents as they so like to rely on. Perhaps the past few decades of activist judges have ruled in favor of broad sweeping government power, but the first century+ of the nation's precedents are exactly in opposition to that. Anyway, I don't care if you disagree. You can be wrong all day but not realize it. Again, though, if you disagree prove your point. Don't attack me personally with tripe such as teabagger. It only shows a left wing bias. Even a centrist wouldn't use such an ad hominem attack. Yes, I too know what a loan is. I also know that if the loan is defaulted on in any way, the U.S. taxpayers will have to cover it. That means more borrowed money from future generations and more borrowed money/inflation in our own time period from a communist regime.

        All politics aside, however, not a one of you gave credit to the fact that I am in favor of the technology. I'd say that's a pretty clear indicator that you're not interested in the technology beyond its appeal to your green facade. That's why I prefer people like Dan on here. I disagree with him 99% of the time, but he's generally respectful, and he is always insistent on an opinion that he backs up. He's not always right, but he backs it up. Things like "most Americans" with no citation is merely an opinion. Again, I digress. I'm on this blog because I am interested in alternative technologies that can hopefully restore the trade balance in favor of the United States. I'd love to see less imported oil. Granted, I think we should open up drilling for more oil and natural gas here. I also think we should use nuclear reactors. Not the dangerous, highly radioactive ones of the past, though. I'm in favor of liquid thorium reactors. If you guys aren't familiar with them I can explain the concept, though Google is your friend here too. My point is, instead of constant bickering, we should let the people of the country have the freedom to do what they want with their own earnings and let us invest our money in the technologies that we see a future in.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's a loan, not a gift
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sorry Mr. Sonnier, but I have to agree with spence on the main point.

        The Constitution DOES grant congress the right to levy taxes. And NOT just for strict uses such as military, hospitals, police. But for any programs that would serve Americans. As to be determined by those very same elected officials.

        This is an argument for another venue. A Tea Party rally perhaps.

        But I think you are one of those people who look at the constitution as document perfect in it's original intention. And that the founding fathers ideas should be held literally, and without change.

        The problem with that.. is that the world is VASTLY different from the 1780's. And the framers of the constitution knew that it would be... so they allowed room for contemporary interpretation.

        Taxes were needed to build the vast roadways in America. They were needed to fund the space program to beat the Russians... and they are needed now to reduce our dependence on oil from unstable regions.


        "The United States grew faster, richer and more powerful than any nation in history because of true free market principles and the government staying out of the way of the people"

        Actually, the largest amount of growth was in the 50's and that happened AFTER the FED and Social Security and all the other, so called, government intrusions into the free market.


        Bottom line. What you call "Illegal activities" are made legal by Congress. How? Cause they write the laws. The supreme court... not you, not the Tea Party.. determine if any legislation is unconstitutional.

        The Constitution is a very dynamic document... it is NOT a piece of Doctrine to be worshiped religiously. But a framework, to be a source of guidance, that can change as the world changes.

        You cannot call it "Illegal", you can only grit your teeth, and vote for new members of Congress.
        • 4 Years Ago
        D, you started this whole conversation when you called a perfectly legitimate government program, enacted by democratic representatives, and so established by judicial precedent that not even the "activist" law firms are bothering to challenge it (because they know that even a Supreme Court stacked with "activist" conservative judges has to follow precedent) illegal. You essentially said that your fellow citizens who voted for the representatives who passed this spending are criminals. I don't like being baselessly accused of partaking in a criminal conspiracy, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

        In doing so, you employed the two key teabagger fantasies:
        1) No one has read the constitution but you. If they had, of course they would agree with you. This is a classic dismissal strategy, keystone of a sealed mind. In the real world, government loaning money to private enterprise because it sees a public benefit is a long established legal practice and has always been upheld as constitutional by generations of judges. And when I say that these public private partnerships have gone on for a long time, I mean a long time.

        2) Things were so much better in a previous golden age. In the case of teabaggers, your vision of America is so extreme, you have to go back to the 19th century, that fabled better time of slavery and civil war, environmental destruction and violence against unions, when you couldn't properly bust a monopoly but you could work a child to death in your factory. Yet even then, the narrative is based on a fantasy. Again, using government money to support private business schemes is as old as America.

        In the end, it's just ignorance. Ignorance that allows a teabagger narrative of history to exist. Ignorance of our country's history of juris prudence that has long ago relegated teabagger ideas to the cracked pot of history. Ignorance of the opinions of your own fellow citizens.

        You try to complain about the ad hominem attacks while throwing around "left wingers" (my actual politics you know very little about, except that I support mainstream constitutional interpretation). Then you complain about politicization of the discussion. But your mind is so stewed in bagger agit prop that you can't make a comment without throwing it in, which started this discussion.

        D, you don't seem like a mouthbreather. but you are living in a fantasy if you stand by your original claim that this loan was illegal. It's not. The courts agree. The legislature agrees. Only you and your cultish fellows think you have the truth. That's an almost guaranteed proof that you don't.
        • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      For anyone interested in seeing the top electric car models for 2011 (including the Nissan Leaf) take a look at this video: http://ecomobility.tv/2011/01/28/latest-electric-car-models-for-2011/
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