Smyrna, TN - Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for Nissan North America's advanced battery manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee. This past January the Department closed a $1.4 billion loan with Nissan North America to retool the Smyrna factory to build advanced electric automobiles and an advanced battery manufacturing facility.
"I'm excited about the future we have begun to build here today -- a future where America's workers have good jobs, making clean cars that will reduce our dependence on oil and help us transition to a clean energy economy," said Deputy Secretary Poneman.
Nissan plans to use the proceeds from the loan to produce its all-electric vehicle, the LEAF, at its existing Smyrna, Tennessee plant. Nissan will offer electric vehicles to fleet and retail customers, and plans to ramp up production capacity in Smyrna up to 150,000 vehicles annually. Nissan anticipates the project may result in an increase of up to 1,300 jobs when full production is reached. Retooling of the existing plant and construction of the battery plant will result in about 250 jobs.
Nissan is pursuing a global strategy of transitioning to electric vehicles. The state-of-the-art manufacturing plant will produce 200,000 battery packs annually. Nissan is also laying the groundwork in developing an infrastructure in the US to support electric vehicles. The company has formed partnerships with states, counties, municipalities, and electric utilities to prepare markets for the introduction of electric vehicles including the installation of charging stations.
The Department of Energy was provided $7.5 billion for credit subsidy costs by Congress to cover up to $25 billion in direct loans to companies making cars and components in US factories that increase fuel economy at least 25 percent above 2005 fuel economy levels. The Department expects to make additional loans to both manufacturers and parts suppliers in coming months. The intense technical and financial review process is focused not on choosing a single technology over others, but is aimed at promoting multiple approaches for achieving a fuel efficient economy.