Nissan Starts Producing 2013 LEAF

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Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY) announced that it has started the production of all-electric 2013 LEAF at its Smyrna, TN plant. The 2013 model year LEAF will be produced together with the company’s gasoline-powered products in the plant.

Recently, Nissan opened its largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in Smyrna, which is adjacent to the LEAF assembly facility. The new plant will 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 for the future vehicles portfolio of the company. Nissan is the only automobile company, which manufactures its own batteries.

LEAF is one of the highest selling electric vehicles with 50,000 vehicles sold globally and 19,500 vehicles to the U.S. customers since its launch in December 2010. The 2013 LEAF features 240V charging, which makes it two times faster than the previous model.

The 2013 LEAF is similar to other vehicles of the company including Altima and Maxima. The plant only needed to change a few process and provide special training for technicians.

With this initiative, the company will be able to meet its goal of manufacturing 85% of its U.S. sales volume in North America by 2015. This restructuring of the plant, with new battery plant and incorporation of production of LEAF, has created more than 300 jobs in the U.S. The company expects that job opportunities in the U.S. will increase with the rise in demand.

Nissan reported a 7.7% increase in profits to ¥106.0 billion ($1.35 billion) or ¥25.30 (32 cents) per share in the second quarter of fiscal 2012 ending March 31, 2013, from ¥98.4 billion or ¥23.52 per share in the corresponding quarter last year. However, earnings per share missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 58 cents per share.

Revenues went up 5.5% year over year to ¥2.41 trillion ($30.67 billion) in the reported quarter, driven by an 8.3% increase in unit sales to 1.27 million vehicles globally. The year over year improvement in unit sales was attributable to higher sales volume in Asia and North America, partly offset by lower sales in Japan and Europe.

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) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TM). Currently, it retains a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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