The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has finalized an agreement to provide Nissan with $1.4 billion in new loans that will be used to retool its existing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, for future electric vehicle related operations. When completed, the renovated Smyrna facility will build up to 150,000 of Nissan's new LEAF electric vehicles (EVs) annually as well as turn out up to 200,000 advanced Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery packs. This new funding is expected to create up to 1,300 jobs in the Tennessee plant and ultimately conserve up to 65.4 million gallons of gasoline per year.
The DOE loan guarantee was made under provisions of the $25-billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program which was established by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In formally announcing the award, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu characterized it as "an investment in a clean energy future that will bring the United States closer to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and help lower carbon pollution." Chu went on to note: "We are committed to making strides to revitalize the American auto industry and supporting the development of clean energy vehicles."
Like General Motors with its Volt program, Nissan has already announced a series of partnerships with numerous states, counties, municipalities and electric utilities aimed at helping create an infrastructure that will better prepare markets for the arrival of its LEAF vehicles -- the first of which are slated to arrive by the end of this year -- as well as other EVs currently under development.