Nissan Expects Leaf Sales to Temporarily Drop Due to Production Shift image

Nissan announced that sales of its Leaf hatchback will temporarily drop as the automaker transfers production for North America to its Tennessee plant.

During last year’s fourth quarter Leaf deliveries were about 1, 500 units a month, compared with around 579 units a month through September. As Nissan will need about a month to restart vehicle and lithium-ion battery production at the Smyrna plant, Tennessee, the automaker will boost supplies beginning with March.

Sales “grew significantly in the fourth quarter, which resulted in dealers starting January with an even more limited supply of the electric vehicles than we anticipated,” said Brendan Jones, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy.

Nissan began 2013 with a supply of a little less than 900 units of 2012 model Leafs and it expects to sell more than 80% of the vehicles this month. Last year Japan’s second-largest automaker sold 9,819 Leafs in the States, less that the company’s target of 20,000 units. Nissan expects Leaf sales to increase this year, due to the vehicle’s improved recharge time and lower price.

In the past all Leaf vehicles sold in the US were imported from Japan, therefore Nissan decided to shift production of the new 2013 S trim Leaf to Smyrna plant. The model’s base price will be $28,800, down from $35,200 for the previous Leaf entry-level model.