The loan, which originated through the department's loan guarantee program office, was issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, a $25bn program authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
The program is designed to accelerate the development of vehicles and technologies that create cleaner means of transportation. The loan was finalized after a financial and technical qualification process.
The loan will result in the creation of up to 1,300 jobs when the plants are operating at full capacity. Modification of the Smyrna manufacturing plant, which will begin later this year, includes a new battery plant and changes in the existing structure for electric-vehicle assembly.
When fully operational, the vehicle assembly plant will have the capacity to build 150,000 Nissan Leaf electric cars per year, and the new plant will have an annual capacity of 200,000 batteries.
Nissan Leaf, a five-passenger sedan, will be available for private and fleet customers. It is being launched in the US, Japan and Europe in December 2010. Nissan has formed around a dozen partnerships in the US, in markets including State of Tennessee, the State of Oregon, Sonoma County and San Diego in California, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, Washington DC, Seattle, Raleigh, North Carolina, and with Houston-based Reliant Energy.
In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive design, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is involved in improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program 2010, whose key priorities are reducing CO2 emissions, cutting other emissions and increasing recycling.