MEXICO CITY (Bloomberg) -- Nissan will begin production of the Leaf EV in the United States in December, helping the company to double U.S. sales of the subcompact to 20,000 during its current fiscal year, said Bill Krueger, the vice chairman of the carmaker's U.S. unit.
The Leaf is currently made at a single plant in Japan and exported worldwide. From February, the automaker also plans to begin production for the European market at its plant in Sunderland, England.
The U.S. plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, will be ready to make the cars in December, helping boost supply before the fiscal year ends in March, Krueger said in an interview Sunday in Los Cabos, Mexico, where he was visiting for the B-20 business summit.
The automaker is also expanding sales nationally after beginning in seven states, he said.
Leaf sales in the United States have dropped the past two months, trailing General Motors' rechargeable Chevrolet Volt and Toyota's plug-in Prius in May. Volt deliveries more than tripled to 1,680 units in May, while Leaf sales fell 55 percent to 510.
"We've had to fulfill demand from one plant globally," Krueger said. "Once we localize it in December, the second half of the fiscal year is when we'll see most of the supply, demand be available."
Japan's three largest automakers are producing vehicles in North America at a rate indicating each will set records this year. Nissan made 1.18 million in the U.S. and Mexico last year, its highest volume to date, and may make as many as 1.35 million at the current rate.