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Nissan ups electric car production: every third car a Leaf

The Leaf may be the first full-scale, all-electric production car from a major automaker to be sold in the U.S., but Nissan hasn’t exactly been quick to get it into the hands of customers.

That should change, however, with the announcement that the Japanese factory responsible for making the five-seat family hatchback is set to double production over the next month.

At the moment, one in every six cars coming off Nissan’s Oppama production line is a Leaf. By the end of March, Nissan has promised every third car will be a Leaf.

Just like its rival, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the 2011 Leaf is produced on a production line alongside non-electric cars such as the 2011 Juke, and the 2011 Cube. This method of production enables new cars to be gradually phased in, without disrupting the plant production schedule.

The process also allows for minimal financial risk, meaning unpopular cars can be made in lesser volumes.

While there are over 20,000 reservations in the U.S. for the Leaf, only 10 cars were delivered in December. In January 173 Leaf orders were fulfilled, but in February only 67 cars were delivered.

The delays have been caused in part by the success of the Leaf in its native Japan, where generous government subsidies and nationwide charging infrastructure have driven an estimated 95 percent of Oppama’s Leaf output to domestic customers.

The company expects that doubling production from Oppama will clear the backlog of orders in both the U.S. and Europe. But with only an estimated 10,000 units produced by the end of March this year, demand is still dramatically outstripping supply.

It’s nice to see the output of the Leaf increase, but until Nissan’s Smyrna plant in Tennessee comes on line in 2012, the wait to own a Nissan Leaf may be a little longer than consumers would like.

[Nissan] via [Wards]

Written by Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, this article originally appeared on All Cars Electric, one of VentureBeat’s editorial partners.

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  1. [...] plant, further delaying shipments of the car to the United States. That was supposed to change when Nissan announced that its Japanese factory responsible for making the five-seat family hatchback was…. One in every six cars coming off Nissan’s Oppama production line was a Leaf. Nissan promised [...]