The US version of the Nissan Leaf was supposed to be in production by now. Nissan has been quiet on when the factory in Smyrna TN would go on line, though the battery pack manufacturing portion of that factory is running. On Wednesday, InsideEV's published a report claiming to have verified Nissan is close to starting production of the US Nissan Leaf.
Nissan's plan for the Nissan Leaf is to move to "local production" with factories on the continent where the Leaf is to be sold. The company is building a factory in Smyrna TN for Nissan Leaf sales in North America, and another factory in the UK for Leaf sales in Europe. The US factory received support from the Dept of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program, and is to have a manufacturing capacity of up to 150,000 Leaf's per year. The Leaf is being manufactured on the same line as the Nissan Altima and Nissan Maxima so volume can readily be adjusted among the vehicles to meet demand.
UPDATE: The 2013 US Leaf is now in production, see 2013 US Leaf has improved range, charging speed, and lower price
InsideEV's writer claims to have spoken with "people familiar with operations in Smryna, TN" and learned that while the Leaf is not yet in commercial production, they are doing final preparations and trial runs of the 2013 US Nissan Leaf. We're supposed to not worry about this, because commercial production is almost ready to begin, and will start shortly in early 2013. That could be a month or two, right?
On Sunday, the Tennessean newspaper reported on the effect of Nissan's factory on job growth in central Tennessee. That article verified battery pack and Nissan Leaf production is ramping up, and that currently Nissan has hired 300 people related to this effort. This could grow to 1000 jobs depending on demand for the Nissan Leaf.
We still don't know what'll be the specs of the 2013 US Nissan Leaf. Word is that Nissan will unveil the US version of the 2013 Nissan Leaf at the NAIAS on Tuesday, January 15. Earlier all Nissan would say is the details of the US version would be announced closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date in early 2013. An unveiling on Jan. 15 is compatible with that statement. In November, specs of the Japanese version of 2013 Leaf was announced with an improved cargo area, improved driving range, and improved efficiency.