Interesting news for anyone happy to see Nissan build its all-electric Leaf in America – its components are coming mainly from overseas. While the percentage of domestically produced parts in next year's Leaf will be increasing, this is a good example of how the idea of a US-made car doesn't mean as much as it used to.

Only 15 percent of the 2013 Nissan Leaf content comes from the US.

Back in July, electric vehicle enthusiast Andrew Chiang started an inquiry with Nissan about why the 2013 Leaf's window sticker was showing that only 15 percent of its content came from the US. About 80 percent of the car comes from Japan, which seemed like an odd number given that Nissan had moved production of the Leaf from Japan to its Smyrna, TN, assembly plant. Chiang posted a photo of the window sticker on a Facebook page for the San Francisco Bay Area Nissan Leaf Owners Group. That led to 10 weeks worth of queries, responses, phone calls and in person conversations with Nissan officials. One key thing to know is that the 15 percent number is based on the value of the components, so if the expensive battery bits come from overseas, that tips the scales in the "foreign" direction.

Nissan wouldn't confirm the numbers to Green Car Reports, but did say that the US content will be increasing for the 2014 model that will arrive at dealerships in December. Oddly enough, it's still not going to be a domestically produced car based simply on what's put inside. Brian Brockman, senior manager of corporate communications for Nissan, said that he couldn't provide specific numbers but said that the percentage of the 2014 Leaf will be comparable to "other US-built advanced vehicle technologies."

Brockman gave the 2013 Ford Focus Electric as an example of where Leaf production is headed. US and Canadian parts only make up 40 percent of the parts that go into the Focus EV, according to American Automobile Labeling Act listings used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So, we can expect the Leaf to get 25 more North American content next year. It's just the way of the industry. These days, there may be no such thing as a domestically manufactured car. Even the 2014 Chevrolet Volt only gets 45 percent of its content from the US or Canada. You can get more details over at Green Car Reports.


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  • 26 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Days Ago
      This is misleading for one big reason. The BATTERY! A single component, made in the US. But with every nut and bolt and hinge and widget... can be imported since they are small and lightweight... that makes the numbers skew when compared to an ICE car. Think about how the cost of the Leaf fell quickly after production of the Leaf and its battery moved to Tennessee. Could they do that if 85% of the costs of the car were still in Japan? The Battery is pretty much functionally equivalent to the Internal Combustion Engine... with it's thousands of components. The electric motor is also has fewer components compared to a transmission. So basically, the number of drive train components has taken a drastic reduction, while the auxiliary stuff like body, chassis and accessories have remained the same. That leads to higher durability and reliability in the long run... now someone has found a way to complain about that.
        Spec
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Well it is on Nissan's own sticker.
        krona2k
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Yep, as usual with statistics they have to be clearly defined to be meaningful. Anyway the car is cheaper now and that's what's important isn't it? I'm sure they will move more production to the US as and when it makes financial sense to do so.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        --"While the lithium-ion cells for the Leaf's battery are assembled in Tennessee, the critical electrode material is fabricated in Japan and shipped in huge rolls to Smyrna."
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        --"The 2013 label was calculated for the very earliest Smyrna-built pre-production Leafs, before Nissan had finished local sourcing for all parts." --"Those first Leafs used electric motors built in Japan, but production of motors for U.S. Leafs has now been transferred to Decherd, Tennessee."
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Days Ago
      Im not interrested, how many time i have to say it.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Days Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        @ goodoldgorr Hey, our old friend Gorr is back ! I wondered what happened to you ? I was afraid that you had disappeared forever.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Days Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        at least one more time
      • 2 Days Ago
      Competition is the only thing that creates jobs, while outsourcing continues and layoff continues in every major US company. Even if all us made goods company does exist, that doesn't necessary mean it'll succeed when we have hypocrite consumers ie. Motorola moved their plant to texas to create US phones, i don't see anyone dumping their apple iphones or samsung galaxy phones.
      Spec
      • 2 Days Ago
      Over 85%? Ouch. I thought it was better than that. That is pretty disappointing.
      ferps
      • 2 Days Ago
      over the life of the vehicle, it will still result in less net imports due to the fact that it runs on electricity rather than petroleum.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Days Ago
      Yeah... well there is a law regarding the calculation and when they are issued... it probably could not be helped.
      fefifofum
      • 2 Days Ago
      I'm so glad we gave Nissan all those tax breaks, seems to be really working out in our favor.
        jeff
        • 2 Days Ago
        @fefifofum
        If you count the jobs it created here it is (at least to the people who have them...)
          fefifofum
          • 2 Days Ago
          @jeff
          So you think that Nissan wouldn't have built a plant in the US with out a tax break? I highly doubt that. Sure it may not have been in Tennessee, but it would be somewhere, with it's jobs in tow. Bribing these multinationals to build a plant in a specific place is a bad investment and is just cutting each others throats at the pleasure of big business.
          fefifofum
          • 2 Days Ago
          @jeff
          Oh wow, now that you've explained what I already knew it all makes sense to me now. Oh wait that's exactly what I said we should NOT be doing. They got $377,800,000 dollars. Wasn't hard to figure out I used the power of the internet for like 30 seconds to figure it out, perhaps you should try knowing what you're talking about before saying it's all good. That's 377,800 per worker. We could have just randomly given out 377,800 dollars to 1000 people, Nissan would have built a plant in the US anyways, and we would all be better off. The job would have been created, and 1000 people would suddenly have a bunch of money they would have run out and spent, creating a boom in the economy.
          jeff
          • 2 Days Ago
          @jeff
          Tax breaks are often used to get manufactures to build in a specific area. The jobs they bring directly and indirectly can actually increase the tax base of the area to a point where it more than offsets the tax break for the manufacturer. Also they often only last the first few years... I honestly do not know what they got, but I also know it is most likely not as horrible as you seem to think....
      boggin
      • 2 Days Ago
      The difference between the Leaf and Focus Electric is that an American company earns the profits from Focus Electric sales making America stronger, no matter where Ford sources the parts. But ALL profits for the Nissan go back to Japan to make Japan stronger, while they manipulate the yen to gain advantage.
      BipDBo
      • 2 Days Ago
      So if build an assembly plant in the US where headlights are fit onto otherwise fully assembled cars, you slap on a sticker that says, "Made in the USA!" I'm glad that someone tracks the total content %.
      raktmn
      • 2 Days Ago
      I never knew the measure for what percent is made in America was based upon the value of each part. I guess I'd really never thought about it. It is funny to think that the same car, made out of the exact same parts, would become more "made in America" just because the price of the battery went down over a couple of years. If the battery price dropped by 50% over 5-7 years, that could be enough to change it from being made mostly overseas, to mostly in America without any major changes in the car itself.
      ninjustin
      • 2 Days Ago
      I've notice producers of other devices and things now going with "Assembled in the USA." Then at least you know some American workers got paid for the production of the item.
      Actionable Mango
      • 2 Days Ago
      It should say "Assembled in the USA" instead of "Made in the USA".
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