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Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY) has announced the opening of the largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. The new plant is expected to address the company’s goal of making zero-emissions mobility around the world.

The batteries manufactured at this facility will serve as the power source for the all-electric Nissan LEAF and also the future vehicles portfolio of the company. The batteries will also be deployed in the zero-emission 2013 Nissan LEAF, which will be produced from the first half of 2013. LEAF is one of the highest selling electric vehicles with 46,000 vehicles sold globally and 18,000 vehicles to the U.S. customers since its launch in December 2010.

The production of the first lot of batteries has completed the aging process and is now ready to receive the first charge. The plant has a capacity to produce up to 200,000 batteries annually, subject to the market demand.

The new battery plant is located adjacent to the company’s existing vehicle assembly plant, which has been restructured for the production of LEAF. This restructuring of the plant has created about 300 jobs in the U.S. The company expects that job opportunities in the U.S. will increase up to additional 1,000 with the rise in demand for both batteries and Nissan LEAF.

The company has invested around $1.7 billion for the construction of the battery plant and modification of the Smyrna manufacturing facility, for which it obtained a $1.4 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. The loan was issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. These programs, designed for the development of vehicles and technologies, are aimed at creating a cleaner means of transportation and improve the country’s economy.

Nissan Motor is the sixth largest automaker in the world. The company, along with its subsidiaries, engages in the production and sale of automotive products, industrial machinery and marine equipment, primarily in Japan, North America, and Europe. It manufactures passenger cars, trucks, buses, forklifts, light commercial vehicles, power trains and parts, and also offers sales financing activities.

Nissan Motor competes with Honda Motor Co. (HMC - Analyst Report) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TM - Analyst Report). Currently, its shares retain a Zacks #4 Rank, which translates into a short-term (1 to 3 months) Sell rating.

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