Nissan has made a delivery of Leaf electric vehicles to the US through the port of Long Beach in California, which are due to reach customers by June this year. The company has only delivered 500 of the vehicles since introducing them to the US market in December last year because of disruptions to production caused by the earthquake in Japan.
Today’s delivery marks the first vehicles shipped since the earthquake struck on March 11.
The company now reports that production of the Leaf is back on track and deliveries will grow into the thousands, with all customer orders fulfilled by the end of this summer. This means the company needs to deliver 19,000 of the vehicles in four months to hit the 20,000 reservations made last September.
The company says it has visibility of more than 1,500 Nissan Leaf vehicles either in transit from Japan or at port in the US.
Nissan exports to North America from Japan remained at the same level as last year for March this year, due to increased demand for the new Juke and Quest, despite the impact of the earthquake.
The carmaker is planning to introduce Leaf production to its Smyrna plant in Tennessee from autumn next year, along with the next generation Rogue model and a new three-row luxury Infiniti crossover called the JX. It is moving production of the Xterra SUV and Frontier pickup from Smyrna to the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, to make room for the new models.
The move will mean that by 2015 85% of Nissan vehicles sold in North America will be built there, up from the current level of 69%. Nissan’s production in the America’s will be raised by more than 50% by the introduction of the new models, up from 1.1m units in 2010 to more than 1.7m over the coming years, said the company. Last month US production increased more than 22% year-on-year to just under 53,000 units thanks to increased demand for the Altima and Pathfinder models.
“We remain on track to localise our manufacturing base around the world – especially in the Americas,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman of Nissan Americas. “This drive for balance and flexibility across our operations is essential to support our growth plans in the region.
The introduction of the Leaf, Rogue and Infiniti JX, as part of the company’s effort to increase localised production in the country, will mean increased activity for logistics providers serving both inbound and outbound at Nissan’s facilities in the country.
Nissan is also continuing work on its lithium-ion battery production facility adjacent to the Smyrna plant, which will feed production of the Leaf when production begins next year.