FRANKLIN, TN – Nissan is ramping up U.S. assembly of the 2013 model year all-electric LEAF this week at its manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tenn., where it will be manufactured alongside the company's gasoline-powered products.

The start of Nissan LEAF assembly in Smyrna comes on the heels of the opening of Nissan's battery plant in an adjacent facility.

Assembly requirements for the LEAF are similar to those of its traditional siblings, such as the Altima and Maxima, with which it shares a manufacturing line. Adding the electric vehicle to the Smyrna manufacturing environment required only a few process changes such as the addition of quality confirmation specifically for electric vehicles and special training for technicians, according to the automaker.

Assembling the LEAF on Nissan’s current Altima and Maxima line has helped the automaker reduce costs by using existing equipment, according to Susan Brennan, vice president of manufacturing in Smyrna. “For example, while gasoline-powered vehicles receive fuel tanks and internal combustion engines when they come down the line, the Nissan LEAF gets a lithium-ion battery pack made at our battery plant next door and an electric motor produced at the Nissan powertrain plant in Decherd, Tenn. We truly have localized U.S. manufacturing of the LEAF's major components across the board," she said.

LEAF assembly in Smyrna will contribute to Nissan's goal to manufacture 85 percent of its U.S. sales volume in North America by 2015, according to Nissan.

The 2013 Nissan LEAF offers features such as 240V charging that is nearly twice as fast as the previous model, as well as a broader range of trim levels starting with the S grade, moving up to the SV model and graduating with the SL.

Nissan reported about 50,000 LEAFs sold to date, with 19,500 LEAFs on the road in the United States.