The Nissan Leaf isn't exactly flying off dealer shelves these days, but the slow-selling EV could receive a sales boost when some production is moved to Tennessee. Bloomberg reports that Nissan is ambitiously expecting to double Leaf sales once the plant comes online in December. The sales boost would then give Nissan a chance at hitting 20,000 sales for the fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2013.

It isn't out of the question that the Leaf could gain momentum with the help of local manufacturing, but first Nissan will need to get EV buyers in the showroom. Leaf sales have ebbed the past two months, falling behind the Chevrolet Volt in sales by more than a three-to-one margin. And speaking of margins, moving production to Tennessee from Japan should help Nissan's quest to make money on the Leaf thanks to lower labor and parts costs.

The Smyrna, TN plant will be ramped up for Leaf production by December. The facility will be able to build up to 200,000 Leaf models and 150,000 battery packs per year.


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  • 138 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Slow selling Leaf? Yeah, in the U.S. What are the total global sales? In the U.S. what is the number of Leafs shipped here vs. the number sold? I don't see whole dealership lots filled with unsold Leafs. One or two maybe. It seemed like the price hike was mostly due to Nissan diverting supply to other markets... and basic economics teach us that price will be raised to ensure that number sold are in near equilibrium with number available in any given market. So as quickly as the price was hiked because of U.S. supply problems, I would expect a significant price reduction as soon as Smyrna actually starts churnning out Leafs at full capacity.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        You won't see dealer lots filled with FFE, either. Nor MIEV. One or two, maybe. Why do you think that is so?
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          SVX, Supply is limited, and Nissan would rather sell Leafs in markets that are more profitable. MIEV is VERY limited, and FFE is not even released yet.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          I think it's simpler: BEVs have failed in the USDM, so nobody is ordering them or tying up dealer capital for them.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Ohh, downvotes? Let's look at the facts. Last year, just under 10k BEVs were sold USDM, well over 95% Leaf. This year, the USDM BEV choices expanded to include MIEV and FFE in addition to Leaf. I'm expecting a 50% drop in pure BEVs. If you disagree, that's fine. Please step up, and tell us just how much of a volume *increase* will we see CY2012 over CY2011?
      Marco Polo
      • 2 Years Ago
      There were just too many, (and too diverse), replies to my last post to reply to them all in separate posts, but to address the main points. Spec, Dave Mart etc says there will be price reductions to the leaf because, Labour and Energy are cheaper in the US, and economies from the local supply chain. This depends on two things, the first being if US labour is truly cheaper than other nations where Nissan manufactures, and secondly if the US dollar remains in the doldrums. Is US labour cheaper ? The answer is obviously no, or the the US would still be a manufacturing destination! In fact , US Department of Labour confirms Japanese workers are not only paid less, and cost their employer less in benefits, but outproduce US workers by nearly 50% ! Even based on non-union labour, cost are still in favour of Japan, since the Japanese government takes care of pensions etc. Even Australia only taxes GM, Ford and Toyota 1.5% for health and superannuation. Spec also, advances the view that industrial land is cheaper in the US. So what? Even if this were true, land is a one-off purchase. Does the US have cheaper energy ? Not really, most Asian countries heavily subsidise the price of power to to attract heavy industry and maintain employment. Even some first world nations do the same. The supply chain. These local component manufacturers will be paying US wages, and producing much smaller unit volume, so where's the savings? Transport isn't that expensive. Will the the US recession last forever ? This is what is driving down the US dollar, but the as the US dollar recovers, the advantage of a small US auto-plant diminishes. Even if everything worked for Nissan, how much could be trimmed of the price of a Leaf ? Dave Mart states 'several thousand' dollars. Ok, let's say a $3000, or 10%, price reduction, would that really produce a sales boom to equal 10x the sales ? Because that's what it would take to produce a profit from the building the Leaf ! Anne says, look at the Prius Hybrid, and that's true, but the Prius had only the inferior Honda as competition, and was produced by the hugely profitable and highly regarded Toyota, with the Lexus range of hybrids to re-reinforce it's appeal. The Prius also has no limitation on range. What if, (unlikely,) the GOP gains power next year and reduces or cuts EV subsidies ? What will drive sales of the Leaf to increase by 10x ? Anne opines that Nissan doesn't care if the Leaf fails to sell in volume, and is happy to just take it easy for the next 36 months ! Well, Nissan isn't Toyota or Mitsubishi with huge profits from other industries, (ironically oil and gas) to sustain them. The Alliance with Renault will grow cold if the French government's deep pockets grow less munificent! We all want to see EV's prosper, but simply putting on rose-tinted glasses, and cheering for unrealistic expectations is pointless, and in the long run counter-productive.
        SNP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        On another note though, labor costs in this country will always be higher than other countries. Some of the main reasons has to do with where most of the global profits go to and who gets the final dollar. This is in many ways boosted by the fact that the most profitable and dominant firms in the world originate in this country AND that we have the global reserve currency.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        I'm not going to go into detail on every point, since by the fall we will see what price Nissan can charge for US produced cars. However, the notion that Japan subsidises natural gas to make it in any way comparable in price to the US is peculiar, whose prices are way below those in the rest of the world. You yourself give land prices, whether incentivised or not, fantastically lower than those in Japan. It being a one-off cost is irrelevant, as it is still amortised into the cost of the car. Productivity of the UK Nissan plant at least is comparable to that in Japan. I doubt that they will let standards fall in the US. They themselves have said that production costs in Japan are killing them, as have every other Japan based manufacturer, and have specifically said that production in Europe will knock a third off of costs. None of the factors of production here in the UK are cheaper than in the US, not labour, not land, and most definitely not energy. I am not about to embark on a major cross country cost analysis. I base my comments on what Nissan and other manufacturers say. We will know in the fall.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Japanese - US LNG prices: 'With U.S. gas production growing faster than demand, prices have collapsed, trading in early May at about $2.30 per thousand cubic feet, the lowest sustained level since the 1990s. With Asian LNG prices of $14 to $16, and European prices of $9 to $12, entrepreneurs see opportunity to make money, even if it costs $5 to $6 to liquefy the U.S. methane and ship it overseas.' http://www.arcticgas.gov/lng-industry-eyes-us-gas-developments For Japanese industrial electricity consumers: 'Tepco indicated, a 4000kW customer consuming 1.6GWh per year will see its bill jump from 274 million yen (US$3.5 million*) at a rate of 14.24 yen per 1kWh to 324 million yen at a rate of 16.85 yen—a whopping 18.1% price hike. ' 16.85 yen is 21 cents/kwh US industrial electricity prices: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/en/Page-Sections/Energy-Prices-Supplies-and-Weather-Data/Electricity/Monthly-Avg-Electricity-Industrial.aspx About 7 cents/kwh in February.
          SNP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          energy costs are fantastically cheap. It's the labor that comes with those energy supplies that kills you. Open up your electricity bill and read the details. You'll notice 60-80% of the bill goes to maintenance, support, and tax. Unless you run on oil, the actual electricity/gas delivered to you is likely less than 50bucks a month. In other countries, they heavily tax energy consumption as well as having high raw energy costs. Labor and energy infrastructure costs in japan/eu are probably lower though because their grid is newer, but we have lower raw energy costs....but i guess i'm just splitting hairs now...
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Marco, I didn't mention the Prius, perhaps you mistook me for someone else? Well, as for the next 36 months, Nissan is building a plant with a capactity of 150,000. So that will be the benchmark from that point on. I wouldn't be surprised if they - based on the experiences so far with the ~30,000 LEAFs sold - made some changes to the battery pack to make them feel more secure about its long term performance. The recent Arizona/Texas controversy for example hints at a possible cooling problem.
        Marco Polo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Sorry, of course the obvious question is why do car companies build plants in the US ? Well, here's a hint from David Morgan of CBS: " This year (2010) Volkswagen announced it is opening a plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., which is expected to add about 2,000 jobs from the Tennessee/Georgia/Alabama area. The 1,350-acre industrial park land parcel was offered to Volkswagen at no cost. Estimated value: $81 million. Other incentives are expected to surpass $300 million. In West Point, Ga., Kia is building a plant that will create 2,500 nonunion jobs (starting at $14 per hour), plus an additional 2,500 jobs for parts suppliers, thanks in part to the $400 million in tax breaks and other incentives that Kia received from state and local governments. But such U.S. taxpayer handouts don't always go smoothly. It was announced this week that Toyota is delaying completion of a plant under construction in Blue Springs, Miss., scheduled to open in 2010 for producing Prius hybrid cars. While Toyota has spent $300 on the project so far, the state has invested $200 million and local governments have invested about $35 million."
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Yeah, that is exactly what I was going to post. If it wasn't to their advantage to open factories here then BMW, Honda, Nissan, VW, Toyota, etc. would not have opened factories here. Plain & simple.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      'The facility will be able to build up to 200,000 Leaf models and 150,000 battery packs per year. ' It's precisely the other way around. They aim to produce 150,000 Leaf cars and 200,000 battery packs. Autoblog staff have about 50,000 Leaf cars a year magically running around without batteries. Good grief! Do you ever check what you write?
        Rick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        With just 41 sales (EV sales down -30.5% in May) of expensive electric cars ALL BRANDS in the UK last month, with austerity getting worse, personal incomes on a massive deflationary decline can't see who will be able to afford an expensive overpriced small tiny Leaf? Maybe you could get Ben Bernanke to print trillions of fake Fiat $$$ (sorry QE) so Brits can afford buy 200,000 Leafs NOW our Great Grandchildren will pay you it back on a 300 year loan later. Mmmm banks will end up with it all in Leaf car foreclosures ponsi scheme, maybe thats not a good idea. Where the money gonna come from to buy expensive tiny overpriced Leafs, maybe we could grow money rather than Leafs on trees if only the Greeks & Spanish had thought of that?
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Well . . . they could import battery packs from Japan. But no matter, they are not going to building nearly that many battery packs nor Leafs until consumer interest picks up. Only 2 ways that will happen . . . they cut the price significantly or the price of oil shoots up. I don't see either of those in the near future. Unless the Iran situation were to blow up.
      • 2 Years Ago
      @SNP: there are 350 millions of americans. Nissan doesn't need all of them to flock to Leaf. There are plenty tree-hugging types, west-coast liberals, and people who generally like new cool things. Basically, anyone who bought 1-st generation Prius (which didn't make great financial sense, was unproven, and was widely expected to have battery problems) is a potential customer. I can't speak for everyone, but I personally just like the idea of not hauling the ICE around. Some like bright red cars, some like leather seats, some like big engines. I like a car without gas. We are not purely logical animals, that's why a car salesman asks for a color first. If everybody looked only for the best bang for a buck, no one would ever by anything but a used Civic. And, unlike other new $30K+ cars (buying any of which not is a great financial decision either, btw) this car is actually saves you something. Some of it is money (electricity vs gas), but mostly it is time: you don't need to go to a gas station anymore, and you need much less maintenance.
      Marco Polo
      • 2 Years Ago
      @Vlad, There may be 350 million North Americans, but the US population is only 313 million.
      Dave D
      • 2 Years Ago
      SNP, Are you really that ignorant? The spelling in America is different than England and Australia in many cases. Considering that the English invented the frigging language, you might want to quit embarrassing yourself...and the rest of us 'Mah-ricans. Of course, I can tell you probably know that but just enjoy being a troll.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      The 200,000 is for the US, not Europe, so you start by talking nonsense, which is no surprise at all. Clearly the price of the Leaf has to drop substantially if it is to get more sales. Since Nissan reckon that costs in Europe will be 33% less than producing them in Japan that would seem hopeful for potential price decreases.
      SNP
      • 2 Years Ago
      @Davemart, Lol, tell that to spain who thought it was financially viable to build 20 mega solar panel power plants in the past 5yrs and now have no money to stimulate their economy. And only a moron business person would run their business on EVs knowing full well, they'd be down 50%+ of the time charging on top of the 50-100% price premium. The only way they'd do that is as a PR stunt like multi billion dollar verizon which would buy a couple hundred for fun. I will tell you, if oil shoots up to $1000 tomorrow, you'd see a temporary spike in EV sales. Why temporary? Because the world would need time to produce Natgas engines and once that kicks in, we'd have Hybrid CNG plugins. NOT pure EVs. Pure EVs are a load of crock and you're morons for thinking anyone would give up the portability/availability combustion engines provide.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Presumably producing 50,000 battery packs a year is financially viable, or they would not have set up the UK plant with around that level in mind. Nissan should have built their plant with modular capacity extensions in mind, so although they have the space etc for 200,000 packs they can likely rein that back if sales are not that high. At that level the NV 200 electric could probably sustain sales, as commercial EVs are doing much better in Europe than cars, and regular route deliveries are ideal.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      @SNP You think a Nissan plant in Tennessee pays union wages? C'mon.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      only if it also involves lowering the ridiculous price
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        If anyone had predicted 5 years ago that in 2010 you could buy a fully fledged electric family car for under $ 40,000, they probably would have called the local asylum to pick him up. Yes, you pay extra for the electric drivetrain. It's an option that a number of people are willing to pay for. Just like others pay big $$$$$ for shiny rims, spoilers a special paint job, a 10 kW audio system or other useless crap.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The problem isn't with the Leaf, per se, it is with the BEV segment in general and the widespread perception that the limited range of a BEV inherently makes it a compromise vehicle. Don't expect any comparable vehicles (e.g., FFocusE) to sell any differently until this perception changes.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        Well . . . it is compromise vehicle in form of range. Of course an ICE vehicle is a compromise vehicle that requires ~$4/gallon to be filled in it, it creates local pollution, it is noisy, etc. Pick your compromise.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          We'll see... we must hope gas prices go up steeply and soon then, for the sake of the BEV industry and the environment. With Europe's economy stagnating and USA not faring too well either, though- not to mention circus clowns in congress running roughshod over science, logic, and reason- I'm less optimistic. Getting over commonly-held beliefs re: EVs is a bigger hurdle than (at least) I had anticipated...Ghosn is exceptionally courageous, in the face of it. Kudos to him and Nissan for keeping up the fight.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Yes. You and I see the compromises with ICE mobility, but the marketplace doesn't. The Leaf is a great vehicle, I drive one everyday, happily! But actual compromise and perceived compromise are two different things. The sooner we realize this, the better. We can work to change common perceptions...
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          When gas goes back up to $5/gallon, they'll see how ICE cars are compromised.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Oh don't get me wrong. I don't hope gas prices rise quickly. I'd rather have them low & help the economy recover. The transition to EVs can proceed slowly and that is fine by me. But I do think they need to keep the incentives in place so that at least a small and developing EV market can persist.
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