FRANKLIN, TN -- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on May 17 toured the construction site where Nissan is building a facility to manufacture advanced lithium-ion battery packs for the Nissan Leaf electric car.

Transportation Sec. LaHood tours Nissan battery plant construction site.

Transportation Sec. LaHood tours Nissan battery plant construction site.

Construction of Nissan's advanced lithium-ion battery plant is approximately 75 percent complete and scheduled to be finished by late summer. Nissan then will start installing the battery manufacturing equipment inside the plant and will be capable of producing lithium-ion batteries beginning in late 2012. The plant will have the capacity to produce 200,000 batteries annually, Nissan said.

"With gas prices at record highs, the Obama administration has taken aggressive action to make sure families have access to fuel-efficient vehicles that can help reduce their transportation costs," LaHood said. "That's why I'm so thrilled to see the progress Nissan is making at its new manufacturing facility, where American workers will soon be building cutting-edge batteries for a new generation of electric vehicles that are good for the environment, good for the economy, and good for American consumers."

"Secretary LaHood's visit emphasizes the key role this plant will play in the future of clean transportation for the United States," said William Krueger, senior vice president of manufacturing, purchasing, supply chain management and total customer satisfaction for Nissan Americas.

The 475,000 sq.-ft. battery facility will provide the power source for 150,000 all-electric Nissan Leafs annually.