SMYRNA, TN - Construction is progressing on Nissan's manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn., which will produce lithium-ion batteries to power the all-electric Nissan Leaf vehicle. The Leaf will be produced at the facility beginning in late 2012.

The foundation is laid, the structure is being erected, and the roof is being installed on the vehicle battery manufacturing plant, Nissan said. The plant will eventually be one of the largest in the country at full capacity of 1.3 million square feet.

The facility will be capable of producing 200,000 advanced-technology batteries annually. The plant is located adjacent to Nissan's vehicle assembly plant, which is being retooled to accommodate production of the Nissan Leaf and will be capable of producing 150,000 electric cars annually. Combined, Nissan Leaf and battery production will create up to 1,300 U.S. manufacturing jobs when the plants are operating at full capacity, Nissan said.

"Nissan is making significant strides to be one of the largest producers of electric vehicles and batteries in the United States," said Carlos Tavares, chairman of Nissan Americas. "We applaud President Obama's goal of bringing 1 million electric vehicles to U.S. roads by 2015 and look forward to doing our part to ensure that many of those vehicles, and the batteries that power them, are built in the United States."

Combined, the construction of the battery plant and modification of the Smyrna manufacturing facility represent an investment of up to $1.7 billion. The project initially is being supported by a U.S. Department of Energy loan for 80 percent of that investment, up to $1.4 billion.

The loan was issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, a $25 billion program authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The goals are to accelerate the development of vehicles and technologies that increase U.S. energy independence, create cleaner means of transportation and stimulate the American economy.

Sales of the Nissan Leaf began in select markets in the United States in December 2010. The electric car will be available nationwide in 2012, when production expands to the Tennessee facility. The Nissan Leaf initially is being produced in Oppama, Japan, and will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries being produced in Zama, Japan. The Renault-Nissan Alliance also will produce lithium-ion batteries in Cacia, Portugal, and Sunderland, U.K., as well as in Renault's Flins plant in France.