Nissan Goes DIY For EV Leaf; Building Battery Plant Next Door To Assembly Line

One day after Nissan's announcement that the 2011 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle is sold out, the carmaker broke ground on its own battery plant next door to the Leaf assembly line in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Opening day isn't until 2012, but when the plant does debut, it will be able to build 200,000 lithium-ion battery packs a year...meaning CEO Carlos Ghosn's plan to build 150,000 Leafs a year won't be done in by outside supplier issues.

All told, batteries and cars, Nissan's investing $1.7 billion in Leaf production ($1.4 million billion of that comes from a U.S. government loan), which, if production hits the levels Ghosn predicts, will create 1,300  new jobs.

The TireKicker take? Good for Ghosn. Critical ventures are all too often undone or kept from realizing their potential by weak links in the chain. Outsourcing production of components has also made some manufacturers feel less responsible about the final product., giving them a convenient third party to whom to point the finger of blame. Let's hope this starts a trend toward more auto manufacturers putting their names on and their resources behind more of their product.