Reuters sources inside Nissan are saying the production of batteries in Tennessee for the all-electric Leaf, which stimulus-subsidizing U.S. taxpayers backed with a $1.4 billion loan, could be eliminated.
According to the report, at minimum there is sharp debate over whether the company will continue to manufacture electric vehicle batteries in-house or contract with an outside supplier. Nissan partner Renault, which has 43.4 percent shareholder ownership in the joint company, is said to be pushing for outsourcing battery production – possibly to LG Chem. None who revealed the information were identified for the Reuters story.
“We set out to be a leader in battery manufacturing but it turned out to be less competitive than we’d wanted,” said a Nissan executive to Reuters, on condition of anonymity. “We’re still between six months and a year behind LG in price-performance terms.”
If they’re really thinking about a move …
After three years and $1.4 billion in stimulus subsidies from U.S. taxpayers, you’d think the technology and performance of the all-electric Nissan Leaf would have improved rather than worsened by now.
You’d be wrong.
Whereas once the Leaf enjoyed a favorable review by Consumer Reports (despite an extremely unpleasant test experience by one of its researchers and the identification of several negative features), the magazine has yanked its recommendation. That’s because of the Leaf’s dismal safety performance in crash testing of small cars by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, where it received a rating of “poor,” along with three other models.
“Collapse of the occupant compartment is the downfall for four small cars in this group, including the…Leaf,” said Joe Nolan, senior vice president for vehicle research for the IIHS. “A sturdy occupant compartment allows the restraint systems to do their job, absorbing energy and controlling …
Reports have trickled out lately that, all of a sudden, demand is so great for the all-electric Leaf that Nissan’s production just can’t keep up.
“We’re going to be short on inventory all through the summer,” said Erik Gottfried, director of electric vehicle sales for Nissan, to Automotive News. “It will be late fall before we can produce enough to satisfy everybody.”
Then the appropriate question from taxpayers should be, “What did we pay $1.4 billion for you to do in Smyrna, Tennessee then?!?”
That’s how much stimulus-backed money went to the Japan-based automaker to design a factory outside Nashville to crank out up to 150,000 Leafs and 200,000 Leaf batteries per year. The plant began production late in 2012, and according to the Department of Energy, was to create 1,300 permanent “green” jobs, remove 11,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road annually, and lead to …
Mark it down: the report this month about the shutdown of Vehicle Production Group – beneficiary of a $50-million stimulus loan from the Department of Energy – means the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing initiative within the Loan Program Office has been a thorough failure.
All five ATVM recipients, awarded a total of $8.4 billion of taxpayer-backed financing under the Recovery Act, have earned derision to some degree. Most fit into the already much-ridiculed electric vehicles program. VPG was funded to produce wheelchair-accessible passenger vehicles that ran on compressed natural gas.
The recipients range from the start-ups (Fisker Automotive, Tesla and VPG) to the established (Ford Motor Company and Nissan). The highest-profile flop, by far, has been Fisker, with its single $102,000-plus electric model built for wealthy California elites that couldn’t muster a stronger review from Consumer Reports than “the fourth-worst luxury sedan” on the market, …
The past year was a dismal one for the passé idea that government would use taxpayer dollars responsibly, and that was nowhere more evident than with President Obama’s initiatives to promote “clean” energy technology companies and projects with so-called “stimulus” funds and other public money. NLPC reported extensively on some of the most egregious examples.
Solar Favors Don’t Stop Fizzle
Solyndra went bankrupt in 2011, and the reverberations over $535 million in lost taxpayer money were felt throughout 2012. Money still flowed out from the Department of Energy and its stimulus stash, but Congressional Republicans’ scrutiny of big projects – especially in the Loan Program Office –paralyzed some new projects.
The year began with BP, which not long ago downplayed fossil fuels in favor of a “Beyond Petroleum” motto, exiting the solar business despite having received a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. government …
A top Nissan official has said the company was “arrogant” in its marketing and sales approach for the all-electric Leaf, which received a $1.4 billion stimulus loan guarantee from President Obama’s Department of Energy.
Not that the company is going to return taxpayers their money, since the premise upon which Nissan received the loan were ridiculously high production estimates. Too much in expenses would have to be eaten otherwise.
“We were a little bit arrogant as a manufacturer when we went to the 50-state rollout,” said Al Castignetti, Nissan’s vice president for sales, to Automotive News in late November. “We had assumed that there were people just waiting for the vehicle who would raise their hand and say, ‘Give me a Leaf, give me a Leaf, give me a Leaf.’”
Considering there weren’t many people “raising their hands” in the few states where Nissan did roll out …
The moment that all we electric automotive industry stakeholders (that is, taxpayers) have been waiting for has arrived! The dreams that spurred our $1.4 billion investment in Nissan’s Tennessee plant, for construction of the all-electric Leaf, and its batteries, will finally be realized!
Pass out the scissors for the ribbons, set up the podium for the dignitaries, and roll out a few of those shiny new models…what’s that you say? The ceremony’s been cancelled?
Sure enough, the planned grand opening a couple weeks ago for the Japanese automaker’s factory in Smyrna, Tenn. was called off. It’s not going to be rescheduled. The excuse was that there was a scheduling conflict “among key stakeholders,” which is a surprise considering that with so much taxpayer money behind Nissan’s loan guarantee, “key stakeholders” are plentiful.
But seriously, the horrid-selling Leaf never deterred Nissan from celebrating every milestone – real and …
In what looks like an attempt to avoid a potentially costly and disastrous recall of its taxpayer-funded electric vehicles, Nissan has dismissed the concerns of its Leaf customers in Arizona and other hot states by claiming the apparent loss of battery capacity is “normal.”
Owners of the company’s dismal selling plug-in have banded together to collectively test their vehicles and see just how “normal” their loss of “bars” on their power indicators are.
Over the weekend twelve Leaf owners – led by EV advocate and Leaf owner Tony Williams – were to conduct an extended range test in Phoenix, according to the Web site Green Car Reports. In July NLPC reported that Nissan has been dealing with complaints from mostly Southwestern U.S. owners of the Leaf, who say their vehicles have lost range capacity, which were publicized on the discussion board Web site MyNissanLeaf.com. Carla Bailo, a Nissan …
So far American taxpayers have been forced – through stimulus loan guarantees from the Department of Energy – to “invest” $1.4 billion in a Japanese car company to build an unproven, impractical, expensive vehicle at a Tennessee power plant.
And now it can’t stand the heat.
Nissan has been dealing with complaints from owners of its Leaf electric car who reside in hot-weather states like Arizona, who say their vehicles have lost range capacity.
“When I first purchased the vehicle, I could drive to and from work on a single charge, approximately 90 miles round trip,” said one Phoenix-area Leaf owner to CBS television affiliate KPHO. Now, “I can drive approximately 44 miles on this without having to stop and charge.”
The usefulness of an electric car that costs at least twice the equivalent gas-powered vehicle, at a 90-mile range, that requires hours to fully recharge, is dubious …
Highlighting that electric vehicles are no more than a scheme to extract money from taxpayers rather than sell a viable product, the producer of a dismal-(but still highest) selling all-electric car in the U.S. confirmed they wouldn’t exist at all without government.
Francois Bancon, Nissan’s global general manager of product strategy and planning, could not have been more clear in a discussion with the media at the Australia launch of the all-electric Leaf. In the U.S., taxpayers are backing a $1.4 billion loan guarantee for Nissan to retrofit a Tennessee manufacturing plant to produce the Leaf.
“Yeah, [government support] is the key,” Bancon said in an interview reported by Web site Car Advice. “This technology is expensive; the car is expensive.
“Where we sell the best is where the governments offer their support…which is not only the incentive for the direct purchase, but also they are investing …