Nissan Leaf EV Series-Production begins at Oppama Plant in Japan

Production of Nissan's pure electric Leaf started today at the firm's Oppama facility in Japan, ahead of the car's launch in Japan and the United States in December, and in select markets in Europe from early 2011. Currently, the Oppama plant has an annual production capacity of 50,000 units. The Japanese carmaker said it will begin exports to the USA in November, followed by Europe in December.

"This is a significant milestone, not only for Nissan and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, but also for the entire automotive industry," said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

"Consumers are clear. They want sustainable and affordable mobility...and the Alliance is leading the way with cars that deliver exactly that, with the reliability, excitement and performance that consumers demand. The high-quality, innovative Nissan LEAF will radically transform what consumers expect from automobile manufacturers worldwide."

Nissan said it will start manufacturing the all-electric Leaf at its Smyrna facility in Tennessee, USA from late 2012 and at its Sunderland plant in the UK from early 2013. According to the carmaker, Smyrna will have an annual production capacity of 150,000 units, and Sunderland will have a capacity of around 50,000 units per year.

In the States, the Leaf will retail for $32,780, which comes down to $25,280 after a $7,500 federal tax credit, while buyers can also lease the EV for a monthly payment beginning at $349. The more technologically complex /advanced Chevy Volt has a much higher price tag starting from $41,000, or $33,500 after tax credits.

While the debate -believe it or not- if the Chevy is a hybrid-electric or a pure EV is still on, the five-door Leaf is 100% electric and is powered by an electric motor delivering the equivalent of 107-horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque.

Nissan says the Leaf's lithium-ion battery pack can be filled up to 80% of its full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger, while charging at home through a standard 200V will take approximately eight hours. A full charge is expected to offer a driving range of more than 100 miles or 160km.