Nissan's new electric car to create 1,300 jobs in Smyrna, Tennessee

Nissan Motor Co. plans to create 1,300 jobs in Smyrna, Tenn., when it begins manufacturing its new zero-emission car, officials said Tuesday.

The Japanese automaker, whose North American headquarters are in Franklin, Tenn., says it will roll out the first electric car in Japan on Aug. 2 and begin selling the vehicles next year. Plans to mass produce the car will begin in 2012.

The plant’s output will be around 100,000 cars per year but will rise to 150,000 when at full production.

The all-electric car will be able to drive 100 miles solely off of a battery.

Chief executive Carlos Ghosn said the company is moving toward a zero-emission platform. He did not explain specifics, but says the price of the vehicle will be “very reasonable.”

“If it’s not affordable, it’s not going to work,” Ghosn said.

Nissan accepted a $1.6 billion loan from the U.S. Energy Department to make the batteries and retool its factory in Smyrna. The loan initiative began to help automakers meet the 35 miles-per-gallon fuel-efficiency benchmark by 2020.

Ghosn said the market for hybrid cars remains small. The vehicles accounted for 2.3 percent of the American auto market in 2008 and 1 percent globally.

The Energy Department announced Tuesday $8 billion in loans to Ford, Nissan and Tesla to spur development of more fuel efficient vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. will get $5.9 billion to transform factories across the country to make more fuel efficient vehicles. Tesla Motors Inc., of San Carlos, Calif., got $465 million to manufacture electric vehicles.

"By supporting key technologies and sound business plans, we can jumpstart the production of fuel efficient vehicles in America,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said in a statement. “These investments will come back to our country many times over – by creating new jobs, reducing our dependence on oil and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Advanced Vehicle Technology Program is part of the $789 billion economic stimulus package the federal government passed in January.

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