Nissan Manufactures Lithium-ion Packs for the Leaf at Tennessee Plant image

Nissan said its Tennessee battery plant has begun manufacturing lithium-ion battery packs for its electric Leaf, two years after it hit the market.

The first batch of batteries, funded by a $1.4 billion low-interest federal loan, is now ready for use, according to Nissan. The automaker has hired at the Smyrna plant, in Tennessee and at its adjacent auto-assembly factory more than 300 workers. Production of the Leaf at the adjacent auto-assembly plant will start at the beginning of 2013.

“The opening of this facility in Tennessee supports our goal of making zero-emissions mobility a reality through American jobs and American manufacturing,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in the statement.

This year Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn has failed to reach his target of selling at least 20,000 Leafs in the US, more than double last year’s volume of 9,674 units. During the first eleven months of the year, Nissan has sold 8,330 Leafs and a modified version of the model will arrive at the beginning of 2013. Carlos Ghosn said he expects this new version to boost sales.

The battery plant in Tennessee can manufacture 200,000 packs per year. Nissan, Ford and Tesla have all received federal loans from the Obama administration, to jump-start a US market for EVs and plug-in hybrids.