Nissan Cancels Grand Opening for EV Battery Plant

By · November 09, 2012

Nissan LEAF batteries on production line

Nashville Public Radio reported today that Nissan has canceled its plans for a grand opening ceremony for its Tennessee plant that will produce batteries for electric cars. The cancellation reflects a more subdued and cautious corporate approach to publicity for Nissan EVs.

There was a time when Nissan celebrated every milestone of its electric car efforts—no matter how small—with great fanfare. Photo opportunities were created each time the first customer took possession of the first Nissan LEAF in its rollout markets. Top executives smiled as they handed over keys. Governor Phil Bredesen attended the May 2010 groundbreaking ceremony for Nissan’s EV battery plant. Last year, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood toured the battery plant as it was under construction. But now the company is foregoing a grand ceremony altogether. A Nissan spokesman said there are no plans to reschedule.

At that time of the groundbreaking—and subsequently—Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn made optimistic projections about EV sales. He continues to assert that by 2020, electric cars will command about 10 percent of total auto sales in major mature global markets, like US, Europe, and Japan.

The Tennessee battery plant will have the capacity to produce 200,000 lithium-ion batteries a year. The vehicle assembly plant, adjacent to the battery facility, will be able to produce up to 150,000 LEAFs a year. That’s well beyond the realistic expectations about LEAF sales for the coming years. So far, Nissan has sold fewer than 7,000 LEAFs this year—15 percent below last year’s sales.

The cancelation of the grand ceremony allows Nissan to avoid media scrutiny about low sales, or the need to answer questions about how the company will reverse the trend. According to Nashville Public Radio, a Nissan spokesperson said scheduling conflicts have been encountered “among key stakeholders.”

The stakes are relatively high because Nissan received a $1.4 billion loan from the federal government to build the battery plant and retool its production line to produce electric cars.

The plant quietly started producing of lithium-ion batteries last month. The first Nissan LEAF made in the U.S. is still supposed to roll off the nearby assembly line around the first of the year.

Comments

· Sharyn Bovat (not verified) · 1 year ago

NISSAN's partner Renault is switching to batteries made in Korea by LG. I was told that NISSAN would do the same. That is "most likely" why the celebration did not happen. They only sent out the invitations because so mush taxpayer money was used. NISSAN took 1.4 Billion to build a car with battery technology from the C.A.R.B. days. that back then was a "failure"... Each battery module cost about 1 K to produce and each leaf has 48 modules. I was told the "real" price of the Leaf is about 80K.

NISSAN is trying to renegotiate the terms of the Dept. of Energy Loan.
The collateral for the 1.4 Billion is NOT backed by NISSAN it's a Rutherford County IDB bond for 2 Billion.

Someone should do some research.

· Sharyn Bovat (not verified) · 1 year ago

Nissan's partner Renault is switching to LG batteries from Korea. They work better. Most likely NISSAN will announce they are too. The fact is the technology the Leaf is outdated.

I was told that NISSAN was using battery technology from the 90's during the C.A.R.B. days.
The car really cost about 80k to build. ALSO their is no cost savings (even with the Yen issue) because the parts are shipped to Tennessee to then construct the car. Also NISSAN is on the Iran watch list and the Hill recently reported that companies "like NISSAN" that do business in Iran will "no longer"get federal money or ANY American taxpayer money.

The Leaf EV will be build from a "kit" the parts to that kit will create "up to" 4 distribution jobs. The 1300 jobs promised will not happen. A NISSAN source told me 60-70 jobs based on current demand.

The collateral for the NISSAN 1.4 Billion dollar DOE loan is a taxpayer backed IDB bond.
NISSAN wants to renegotiate the terms.

Can someone investigate what I just wrote. These issues are real and NOBODY wants to admit that an Obama Bundler approved a loan that was funded from the Treasury bank to a company that does business in Iran.

· · 1 year ago

They should take this over capacity to build hydrogen cars instead. Batteries have been rejected by the bulk of consumers but hydrogen hasn't.

· · 1 year ago

Wait, Sharyan . . . "investigate what I just wrote"? This is sort of like me saying that Bigfoot regularly strolls through my back yard every night, but I need someone else to prove it.

And, gorr, I reckon there are several billion cell phones and computers out there along with tens of thousand OEM EVs with lithium batteries. That hardly a repudiation of modern battery technology. When you find a hydrogen powered tablet computer - much less a car - powered by hydrogen that isn't a hopelessly expensive prototype, please let me know.

· Spec (not verified) · 1 year ago

@Bovat . . . that sounds like a lot of bovine excrement.

· Rojo (not verified) · 1 year ago

Hydrogen is a vastly less-efficient method of energy transfer and storage than a battery. Hydrogen isn't just sitting around waiting to be pumped into a car to run through another inefficient conversion back to electricity.

That said, production has been running for far longer than a month in the TN plant.

· · 1 year ago

@gorr Then by that logic, consumers have also rejected the hydrogen car pictured in your profile. The FCX Clarity uses Li-ion batteries.

· · 1 year ago

ideally the interest rate from the DOE is low enough that it's still profitable to make the batteries in the US.

· · 1 year ago

"Batteries have been rejected by the bulk of consumers"

They have?

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

@Sharyn:
You are amazingly full of false logic and untrue information. Why do you present this nonsense and then ask someone else to verify it for you?

You have an agenda and it's not difficult to figure out...you are an alien for another planet and you are afraid the Earth, specially Nissan, will discovery how to use battery electricity for transportation. And, you know we are starting with automobiles and will progress to airplanes and then to space travel.

Would you halt with the nonsense, if I could convince you that your Planet, Republicanism, and it's oil energy source and oil company rulers is are in no danger from the President. I think you have identified your enemy and it is yourself.

· · 1 year ago

@Gorr: I've been backing what you've been saying on several posts, but I'm sorry, here we are parting company. In addition to the other posters, I believe EV's will ultimately be even much more successful than they are at present.

Hopefully Nissan's American workers, chemists and application engineers are learning valuable tweeks regarding the lithium - ion cells. The fact that they want to make the motors themselves also tells me Nissan has a long range plan to finally accept design challenges and work on mimizing manufacturing cost for the modules, or gain expertise to come up with the next generation of even lower cost / greater value modules.

An "Automotive News" article today stated American customers want a Minimum of Mid-Size cars for their Electrics. I have been pushing for someone to take a chance and make a very large electric, like a big SUV Escalade or Monte Carlo style EV, along with very very large ( by today's standards ) batteries. That would solve the unemployment problem around the Michigan battery plant and this Smyrna Plant. I think such vehicles should have at least 150 kwh batteries, and Nissan's attempt to increase the value of their batteries by doing it themselves should be applauded, even in view of their missteps in Tucson. Fire that mealy mouthed British Vice President and put a Straight-Shooting American in charge of compensating any Arizonan or Southern Californian, or Texan who is less than pleased with the battery performance. If I ran that division of the company I would replace these batteries at no charge as often as these people wanted it and just EAT the loss and light a fire under Enginneering's Can to get a reliable battery system for hot weather locales tout de suite.

· · 1 year ago

I also agree with Bill, except for the SUV silliness. And I am going to abstain from my rant about industry propagandists like "Automotive News" and how many of us could care less about what corn sugar-fed Americans feel entitled to. Nissan would have done better to deal with customers who suffered as a result of the thermal management issue before it blew up in their faces. Instead of playing the part of the out-of-touch international corporation, they should have jumped all over it with smiles on their faces (within reason, of course). As a Leaf owner, I don't care about the press releases or grand openings. What I care about is whether or not my Leaf is going to effectively perform the duties of a $30K car over the lifespan of a comparable ICE model. If this battery plant means that Nissan will have the batteries to bring my car back up to power once the current module depletes, that is a good thing. One way or another, Nissan had better get the information out there if this is going to be an option- and at what price sooner than later would be good too. EV enthusiasts are watching.

· RedMapleLeaf (not verified) · 1 year ago

@caffeinekid: Well said; I couldn't agree more.

While I am in a cooler climate (Toronto) I've done 32K km on my 1-year old LEAF, and I feel the need to be reassured that IF my car cannot continue to do my 120 km round trip commute every day (even while I charge a work) after 7 years I have options and support from Nissan. I really feel for the people in AZ and they must be made whole, but even in cooler climes we need to be reassured that there are options, whether thats pricing and availability for new packs, refurbished cells, newer chemistry upgrades, etc. There is only so much risk we're willing to take, even for believers and early adopters. If the LEAF turns out to be an expensive experiment for some of us this will put a chill on BEVs and even PHEVs. And personally, I can't bear to think of going back to an ICEV.

· Bill (not verified) · 1 year ago

I have had my LEAF in AZ since April 2011. I have no problems. Just because a few have not performed up to expectations, let's not get on this "kill the EV bandwagon". I give Nissan a lot of credit for forging forward in the face of all the crybabies and haters.

· Smiling when sailing (not verified) · 1 year ago

Actually I would have preferred the even older NiMH chemistry for my electric car, but wait, someone was afraid of the success and efficiently removed NiMH from the plugin car marked. Funny enough the old NiMH battery packs together with the old cars ( RAV4 EV 1. Gen.) seem still to be going strong. If not for the charger, I might have bought one of those even 10 years old). But honestly, I am more than happy with our Leaf as it is, also with the current battery chemistry. And I hope Nissan goes ahead with the e-NV200 which would be more practical for us as a family car. Anyway, once there is a surplus of batteries, well, Nissan will sell them, with and without a car.

· Lad (not verified) · 1 year ago

Stand Tall.Leaf Owners, Nissan will protect you under its umbrella of fair play, just as all other American capitalistic companies have done since Rockefeller started Standard Oil.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

maybe yall just were not invited,I was there and it is not quiet. ps there are some stange looking VANS at nissan in brentwood,symrna,and dechard that look mighty close to an e-nv200 wonder whats going on?????

· · 1 year ago

NiMH is good solid technology, Smiling, and I'm the happy owner of about 60 AA and AAA cells in devices throughout my house with that rechargeable battery chemistry (mostly the low-self-discharge Sanyo Eneloops, with a few comparable Ray-O-Vacs and Energizers thrown in for good measure.) We haven't bought any single-use disposable batteries in these size classes for several years now.

The recently deceased Stan Ovshinsky is thanked every time I pop a couple of Eneloops in the charger for a few hours and then put them into a device - or put them on the shelf for several months before installing them in a device - and use them without any more concern or worry than I would with the old disposable alkaline variety . . . or the earlier generation NiMH consumer batteries, which would self-discharge a day or two after charging.

Today's lithium batteries are probably on par, chronologically speaking, with the earliest NiMHs. The technology is very good and capable of greater things in the future, as RedMapleLeaf observes, but not quite perfected just yet.

Liquid electrolyte cell construction is probably the biggest crutch with current generation lithium cells. These fragile foil baggie cells have to be protected from puncture within harder metal can packs (see photos in this article) and those, in turn, have to be cooled somehow, as the contained liquid electrolyte cells operate within a relatively narrow temperature range, necessitating heavy and complex thermal management. The more comprehensive liquid versions (Tesla, Chevy Volt) do the job. But they add weight, complexity and expense. Circulated air or passive thermal management (Nissan) looks to be lighter, simpler and cheaper. As the Arizona Leaf debacle has demonstrated, though, it may not be enough to protect the fragile nature of liquid electrolyte cells.

We're going to see incremental improvements in liquid electrolyte cells in the near term. A123 (or whoever will end up owning it) promises their EXT cells to be more reliable over a wider temperature range and the up-and-coming Envia declares large advances in energy density over anything that is now out there. But, if I'm not mistaken, it's all stilled tied to liquid electrolyte construction.

A couple weeks ago - on two separate occasions, if memory serves - I posted this YouTube link onto discussion threads here, showing a tiny (around 1mAh) solid electrolyte - or "solid state" - battery surviving abuse that would have killed one of today's mainstream lithium cells and, in fact, standing up to one test that would have reduced a liquid electrolyte cell to fire and/or toxic fuming. The significance of it got lost, I think, amongst election anxiety that we were going back and forth with then. But it's worth another look . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdAgKDKK6ZY

Now, granted, Infinite Power Solutions makes tiny batteries . . . and I think that's the size class they want to be pursing exclusively. They're into low voltage energy harvesting and putting batteries like this into credit-card-sized devices. The one in the video probably wouldn't keep your cell phone going for more than a couple of calls. But I'm amazed that a hole could be bored through it with a paper punch and then have it immersed into a cup of water. All it did was bubble almost invisibly . . . no fire, smoke or explosions. I subsequently found out that these can be purchased singularly from a retail vendor (Digi-Key) and I'm sure I'll do so for some upcoming minimalist electric model airplane projects, where I was previously using small supercapacitors with limited success.

But who is scaling up solid state electrolyte lithium batteries for EV use? Well, I was please to find that several companies are. Here's an online MIT Technology Review page that I stumbled upon the other days, profiling what a company called Sakti3 is doing . . .

http://www2.technologyreview.com/article/423685/solid-state-batteries/

Also mentioned there is that a number of others are also pursuing solid state battery technology for EV applications. Having spent a few minutes over the weekend visiting the web sites of Sakti3, Planar Energy and Seeo, I noted sparsely-appointed online presences . . . no wholesale or retail products yet displayed by any of them. But I predict we'll be hearing more these companies - and others like them - down the road. If it's not going to be the next big thing coming up in the way of EV batteries, solid state electrolyte cells will be the big thing coming up after the big next thing.

· · 1 year ago

@RedMapleLeaf

I'll be visiting your fair city this Thursday for the Tesla Yorkdale unvailing. Is the Mercedes Benz Midtown dealership the closest public charger dock location? I'm guessing that Tesla doesn't have anything there. If I can't find a public charger I'll be "running on Sparks" by the time I get home. Maybe I'll sneak into that Niagara-On-The-Lake Garden Hilton and get another dime's worth of juice at the charger(s) there.

· · 1 year ago

@RedMapleLeaf

I believe there is a parking lot next to the Yorkdale plaza (in North York). IF there was a 110 volt plug somewhere there it would be at least a little help. For some reason (I have my guestimates but thats later), my Roadster is horrible at 110, but it may be just enough.

· David L. Mustoe (not verified) · 1 year ago

I would buy the Leaf or the Miev if they would offer it with multiple range (like Tesla) and pay the extra battery cost.

· · 1 year ago

@Bill Howland: "running on Sparks"

I love it! Mind if I use that?

· · 1 year ago

@Brian Schwerdt

Yeah! I figure if my gas cars "ran on fumes" my ev's therefore must "run on Sparks".

@RedMapleLeaf

HI, I think I've got a public charger lined up at Midtown Mitsubishi 2 miles away.. They have an Eaton Docking station. Eaton is a very big name here in the States (no relation to your Eaton's), so hopefully it will work, but then again Pass & Seymour (LeGrande) doesn't work and neither does Schneider Electric, nor the supposedly GM designed VOLTEC. So one never knows for sure until ya try it.

Here in Buffalo, we only have Aerovironments at the Nissan Dealerships, and GE DuraStations everywhere else. So I haven't tested quite as many brands as I would have liked for compatibility with the Tesla.

Oh, just thought I'd get your take on this since your name implies a patriotic Canadian..
A week ago I was talking to this guy from Kingston and he, unprovoked by me, starting calling me "Dirty American Scum", hehe. Believe me there is a big difference between the people of the USA and our gov't, and to add insult to injury I have to finance (via our Revenue Canada esque outfit by taxation) what amounts to half my income by the time you include my Province (state). So is there developing any hatred of Americans in general? I find that those of us who travel alot tend to be much more arrogant than those of us who tend to stay put. I tend to stay put, but I haven't been to Toronto in 10 years, and the people were friendly back then.

· · 1 year ago

@Bill Howland,

You could drive your Tesla to Syracuse and try out the ChargePoint network we have. Just be prepared to fork over $2.40/hr for the privilege.

· · 1 year ago

@Brian Schwerdt

What kind of vehicle do you charge there? Also, I can't just go and use it right? I have to 'preapply' for a Zigby card or something? Or is there a credit card or vending machine attached to take ca$h?

I asked permission from Toronto Mitsubishi If I could you their EATON charger in 2 days.. Potential problems:

1). Only one device within miles so it could be busy.

2). Never verified that EATON and Roadster will work together. You would think its a trivial matter for companies to get together and do a simple test, but apparently this never happens, especially since there is a Design
Defect in the Roadster's charger which Tesla does *NOT* deny.. DD's aren't covered in the warranty. They make no claim that $109000 buys you a 'perfect' vehcile.
Toyota to its credit is at least coming out with a few known compatible chargers for its RAV4EV. In general, from what I've seen so far, about 1/2 the charging dock types work, and the other 1/2 don't with the Roadster..

Therefore, I'm prepared to drive home at 40 miles per hour, use no heat (UGH!!!!), and I have a 12 gauge 60 ft extension cord as well as my '110 connector' in the trunk. Wish me luck.

· · 1 year ago

@Bill Howland,
Best of luck to you. You're truly a pioneer.
If it were summer, I'd suggest you look for RV parks but they're mostly closed during the winter in upstate NY.
I don't know that the Roadster has a defect. It was out before J1772 was finalized.

· · 1 year ago

hehe, well, I will be the first Buffalo Tesla to make it to Toronto Ex-EV1Driver. Yeah there are at least 5 EVSE's that will not work with the Roadster, and I own 2 of THEM! No, Tesla claims the roadster is fully J1772 compatible, which they are not lieing, it kinda is as much as any car is, however, while being compatible, it is not without a Design Defect. That very precise terminology is to avoid litigation. Its in the warranty agreement. The larger problem is J1772 itself, but it is the standard... This new attrocious combo lvl23 thing (now renamed both level 2 (!!!???) - why can't these guys ever make up their minds) is such a bad combo, and since the j1772 is horrid in and of itself hopefully we won't be stuck with another abortion. I'm on very good terms with all the Tesla people and they say there's no problem if I stay OVERNIGHT in Toronto. They will get me back home. Unfortunately, I have other commitments.

· · 1 year ago

@Bill Howland,

I have charged my Leaf, and have seen them work with Volts and PiPs as well. I have never seen a Tesla using one, though.

You don't have to apply for a special Zigby card, you can use any valid credit card. Of course, if it doesn't work, you'll probably have a tough time getting home again. I'd offer you use of my EVSE, but it's a Voltec unit which you said doesn't work. I always have a 120V outlet available...

Good luck on your Toronto trip!

· · 1 year ago

@Brian Schwerdt

Thanks for the offer.. You wouldn't want me to use your 110 volt outlet. It takes 2 full days on the Tesla.

I thought they were only selling Voltecs to VOLT owners... How did u get one for the Leaf? Ebay? We're talkin about the round 15 amp @ 220 volt coily cord thing?

· · 1 year ago

@Bill Howland,

I wouldn't mind a Tesla in my driveway for 2 days, but you might not want to be stuck in Syracuse ;)

Yup, it's the 15A coily cord thing. They are only selling to Volt owners. I "cheated" and bought one through my friend, who does own a Volt. Each owner is allowed to purchase up to 3 of them, and he only needed 1.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

Hydrogen instead of battery? OH THATS RIGHI ... supposedly the technology is such that they're only 1/2 as expensive as they used to be .... all the way down in cost to $500,000 presuming they could sell in volume (chuckle) ... yea, you better read, "The Hydrogen Hoax".

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