CACIA, Portugal -- The Renault-Nissan alliance is on track to produce 250,000 Leaf electric cars by early 2013 -- enough volume to satisfy likely demand in Asia, North America and Europe, a top Nissan executive says.
Pierre Loing, Nissan Europe's vice president in charge of product planning and strategy, said early production constraints will fade as plants in North America and Europe launch output.
Currently, all Nissan Leaf EVs are built in Japan. Nissan will add production of the Leaf at Smyrna, Tennessee, USA, in late 2012 and at Sunderland, England, in early 2013.
“As of early 2013, we expect to satisfy European demand with European supply and U.S. demand with U.S. supply,” he said.
Loing made his comments during a groundbreaking ceremony in Cacia, northern Portugal, where Nissan and Renault are spending 156 million euros ($211 million) to build a second European battery plant.
The Portuguese factory will open in December 2012, and will produce up to 50,000 batteries a year. Most of those batteries will be used in the Renault Fluence EV, which will be built in Bursa, Turkey.
Loing told Automotive News Europe that customers have ordered 20,000 Leafs in the United States, 6,000 in Japan and 1,500 in Portugal, Ireland, England and Switzerland.
Nissan and Renault are investing a combined 4 billion euros to develop EVs and batteries.
According to the alliance's production plans:
• Sunderland will produce 60,000 batteries and 50,000 Leafs
• The Cacia plant will produce 50,000 batteries a year
• A factory in Flins, France, will produce 100,000 batteries annually
• Smyrna will produce up to 200,000 batteries and 150,000 Leafs a year
• Nissan's Oppama plant in Japan will produce 50,000 battery packs and 50,000 Leafs annually
• The Zama plant in Japan will produce 50,000 battery packs annually.
Nissan does not intend to lease the Leaf's battery packs to consumers, Carlos Tavares, Nissan executive vice president, told ANE at the Cacia plant groundbreaking ceremony.
Studies done by Nissan showed prospective customers were not comfortable with the idea of not owning an important part of the car, Tavares, a Portuguese native, said.