Nissan has become one of the first non-U.S. based automakers to receive funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program established back in 2007.
The program, which set aside $25 billion to help fund the development and manufacture of a new generation of hybrid and electric vehicle technologies, has so far funded the likes of Tesla and Fisker Automotive, as well as major domestic automakers like Ford, but now it's backing Japanese automaker Nissan and its 2011 Leaf electric vehicle.
There is a catch, however. The catch is that Nissan will build the Leaf at its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee and create some 1,300-odd U.S. jobs in the process. Additionally, Nissan will also use the plant to start building lithium-ion batteries.
Speaking at a press conference at the 2010 Washington Auto Show today, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu awarded Nissan with a $1.4 billion loan to support the modification of the Smyrna plant later this year to start building up to 150,000 Leaf EVs annually.
The 2011 Nissan Leaf is tipped to go on sale towards the end of the year and cost around $25,000 to $30,000, and according to the automaker it guarantees a range of over 100 miles on a single charge. Additionally, the zero-emission vehicle should provide reasonable performance, on par with other cars in the economy hatchback class, and its electric battery pack can generate output of up to 120 horsepower while its electric motor delivers 107 horsepower of output and 206 pound-feet of torque--figures typical of many smaller and medium-sized cars.
For more details, including driving impressions, check out our preview story by clicking here.