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2010 Nissan Leaf - Click above for high-res image gallery

Department of Energy Secretary Chu announced the closing of Nissan's $1.4 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Loan Program loan (originally, the amount was for $1.6 billion) today during the Washington Auto Show. As expected, this money will used to kick off production of the Leaf in the U.S.

Secretary Chu announced the closing of Nissan's $1.4 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Loan Program loan (originally, the amount was for $1.6 billion) today during the Washington Auto Show. As expected, this money will used to kick off production of the Leaf in the U.S.

Nissan is the first Japanese automaker to confirm that it has asked for funds from the U.S. Department of Energy. The amount of the request is not yet known, but it would be used to upgrade Nissan's assembly plant in Smyrna, TN and would ostensibly be used to develop electric cars and the batteries that power them. Nissan's longstanding goal is to introduce fully electric vehicles to the American market in 2010. The other two big Japanese automakers, Toyota and Honda, say that they have not soug