In celebration of a 30 year commitment, Nissan North America headquarters in Franklin, Tenn and the Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant will soon be home to 30 new solar-assisted charging stations. The chargers are part of Nissan’s continuing investments to the state of Tennessee, placing the tally at $3.5 billion. They are expected to be fully operational by July 1, 2011 for Nissan employees and visitors.
The charges are designed specifically for the Nissan LEAF which launched worldwide in December 2010. The LEAF is the world’s first commercially available all-electric zero-emissions car. It runs off of an advanced Lithium-Ion battery that will be built at a new plant in the Smyrna complex specifically designed for its production. Plant operation is anticipated by late next year.
Using the same Lithium-Ion battery as the LEAF, the charging stations are designed to conserve more energy with solar power and energy storing abilities. Since it will be used in two different platforms Nissan will also be able to monitor the products abilities well.
Given that Tennessee is where the headquarters are located, Nissan is using it as its primary market for the LEAF. Nissan Americas chairman, Carlos Taveres says that “These solar-assisted charging stations demonstrate our dedication to a zero-emissions society, and our dedication to bringing innovation to our home in Tennessee. Nissan in the coming year will expand our manufacturing presence, enhance our philanthropic efforts and make new additions to our headquarters operations, all in Tennessee.”
Tennessee Valley Authority and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be exchanging data with Nissan for further research and use. The U.S. Department of Energy is also assisting the company with a matching grant for the charging stations.
Nissan’s Tennessee Home
In 1981 Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant began construction. Two years later production commenced with a pick-up truck. Another two years later the Sentra starting rolling off the line. The Altima sedan, which is still produced there today, was added to the plants line up in 1992. Later additions include the Maxima sedan, Pathfinder SUV, Xterra SUV and the Frontier Pick-Up. Close to 9 million vehicles and a $2.5 billion investment later, the plant has expanded to 9.4 million square feet, and puts out 550,000 units per year.
Expanding on its operations, Nissan opened a powertrain plant in Decherd, Tenn. in 1997, building transaxles and engines for vehicles built in the Smyrna Plant. A $682.7 million investment created the 1.2 million square foot location that puts out 950,000 engines, 192,000 cylinder-block castings and 1.1 million crankshaft forgings. Nissan’s US headquarters joined the production plants in Tennessee in 2006. Currently a transition is in place to relocate Nissan’s advanced planning group to Nissan Americas as well.
Doing Good for the Comunity
Nissan has made it a priority to be involved in its local community. It has supported organizations including Boys and Girls Clubs, United Way, and other events such as blood drives and disaster relief. Donations totaling over $5 million include Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville Symphony, Second Harvest, Oasis Center, and others.
Just this past year a $300,000 donation was made to support relief efforts for flood victims in the greater Nashville area, which won a “Corporate Philanthropist of the Year award, given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Nashville Chapter, (AFP).
ENERGY STAR named Nissan Partner of the Year in 2010 and 2011 by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency for its environmental conscientiousness. Nissan’s latest development in keeping with their environmentally conscious commitment has earned them the 2011 European Car of the Year award for the LEAF.
– By: Alexandra Koken