Video: An Inside Look at How the Nissan LEAF is Made

By · October 25, 2010

A bunch of Nissan LEAFs lined up for the car's media launch at the Nissan North American headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

Ever wonder how the Nissan LEAF will be assembled and built alongside other conventionally powered vehicles in existing Nissan manufacturing facilities? For the first two years of LEAF production every vehicle will be built in an existing Nissan factory in Oppama, Japan. The Oppama plant already builds combustion-engined cars, including the new Nissan Juke.

During these first two years the LEAF manufacturing process will be real-world proven at Oppama, but at the end of 2012, Nissan will start building the LEAF at two other global locations: Sunderland, England, and Smyrna, Tennessee. Both of those plants already exist as well and are undergoing retooling to be able to build the LEAF alongside their already-existing lineup. The Smyrna plant will also get an accompanying battery plant so that the batteries can go from one building to the next for an ultra-efficient process.

In celebration of their first Nissan LEAF to roll off the assembly line at Oppama last week, Nissan has assembled a version of "How It's Made" for the Nissan LEAF. The video (below) shows everything from battery assembly to painting and talks about how the process differs from conventional assembly. Earlier this year I also had the chance to get an inside look at how the Smyrna plant will be retooled and what, exactly, needs to be changed in the process to accommodate the uniqueness of an electric vehicle (video below).

Nissan LEAF motor install, Smyrna, Tennessee
Nissan LEAF battery install, Smyrna, Tennessee

The Nissan LEAF fits right into the current production process at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee, facility. In the top photo an engine is being installed in a conventional vehicle; in the LEAF the motor and power electronics will be installed at this point. In the bottom photo a conventional vehicle's fuel tank is being installed, whereas in the LEAF the battery will be installed here.

As it turns out, there are really only two differences between the assembly of a conventional car and an electric car: 1) When the fuel tank is normally installed on a conventional car, the LEAFs batteries will be installed, and 2) when the engine is normally installed on a conventional car the motor and power electronics will be installed on the LEAF (see pictures above and video below).

Nissan's "How It's Made" episode for the Nissan LEAF.

When the LEAF begins production at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee, facility in 2012 only a few modifications will need to be made to make it fit right into the current production line.

Sorry it took me so long to get my video from earlier this year produced, but given Nissan's press release and the commencement of production at Oppama, it seemed like a good time to get off my duff.

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