Nissan Cancels Grand Opening for EV Battery Plant
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.
New to EVs? Start here
What Is An Electric Car?
Before we get going, let's establish basic definitions.
A Quick Guide to Plug-in Hybrids
Some plug-in cars have back-up engines to extend driving range.
Electric Cars Pros and Cons
EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
Federal and Local Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
Eight Factors Determining Total Cost of Ownership of an Electric Car
EVs get bad rap as expensive. Until you look at TCO.
Quick Guide to Buying Your First Home EV Charger
You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
Electric Car Utility Rate Plans: Top Five Rules
With the right utility plan, electric fuel can be dirt cheap.
The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).
Eight Rules of Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.