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Nissan has restarted production at its Oppama, Japan plant. For the first time since the tremendous quake rattled Japan on March 11th, the lines at the Oppama facility are rolling and Nissan Leafs are trickling out of the plant's doors. As the sole production site for the Leaf – at least until Nissan's plants in Smyrna, TN and Sunderland, UK come online in 2012 – the Oppama facility has handled assembly of all of the 5,000-plus Leafs made so far.

2011 Nissan Leaf – Click above for high-res image gallery

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.

Last night, Nissan Motor Co. officially kicked off production of its battery-powered Leaf at the company's facility in Oppama, Japan. The Leaf is slated to go on sale this December in both the U.S. and Japan. Production Leafs will roll out the doors of the Oppama plant and board ships for export to the U.S. in November.

Up until now, Nissan has managed the pre-ordering process for the Leaf without a hitch. From taking reservations to conducting home charger assessments, the step-by-step process of ordering the Leaf has moved right along with seamless precision, making Nissan appear rather well prepared to undertake the complex process of offering a breakthrough electric vehicle to the public. Prepared or not, we expected a snag somewhere along the way and it finally happened.