At Nissan's Oppama plant in Japan, the battery-powered Leaf rolls off the same line that the Juke and Cube crossovers strolled down just minutes before. Rather than dedicate a line for the electric hatch, Nissan streamlined the Leaf's complex assembly process, allowing it to be built alongside a conventional auto. This streamlined process cuts down on assembly costs and allows line workers to carry out familiar tasks.

Starting in the fall of 2012, Nissan's Smyrna, TN plant will be tasked with assembling Leafs for the U.S. market. Smyrna will follow the same assembly model set by the Oppama plant and weave the Leaf into the production mix with the automaker's gas-fueled Altima and Maxima. Dan Heur, project manager-vehicles at Nissan's Smyrna plant, discussed why the company decided against a dedicated Leaf assembly line, stating, "As unique as the (Leaf) is from a parts standpoint, what we want to do for our (assembly-line workers) is make it just like any other car." The Leaf may be unlike most cars on the inside, but putting that inside together doesn't have to be so different.

[Source: Wards Auto]

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