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Nissan has started production of its Leaf electric vehicle in Japan – the vehicle, which will go on sale domestically as well as the US in December, has begun rolling out from the company’s Oppama Plant, which also assembles models such as the Juke and Cube.

Part of the assembly line has been modified to mount battery modules at the stage of production where fuel tanks are traditionally installed, and motors and inverters are mounted at the point where engines are installed in gasoline-powered vehicles.

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The Leaf’s lithium-ion battery modules are manufactured in Zama, Japan at Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, which is Nissan and NEC joint-venture company. The battery module, which contains four battery cells, is made in Zama and then shipped to Oppama, where 48 of them are assembled into the electric car’s battery pack.

Oppama, which will have an annual production capacity of 50,000 Leafs, will serve as the blueprint plant for subsequent production of the Leaf elsewhere. The car will also be built in the US at Smyrna, Tennessee, beginning late 2012 and in Nissan’s Sunderland facility in England in early 2013.