Nissan Americas will produce the electric motor for the US-built Leaf electric vehicle at its Decherd, Tennessee, powertrain assembly plant starting in 2013.

Preparation of the plant, helped by US Department of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program loan funds, will include a new assembly line and this will create up to 90 new jobs. The plant will have the capacity to produce up to 150,000 electric motors annually for Leafs by then built at the company’s assembly plant in Smyrna, also in Tennessee.

“Nissan’s Tennessee operations are paving the way to a zero-emission future for everyone,” said Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas. “By delivering motors for the first mass produced electric vehicles manufactured in the United States, our Decherd plant will play a vital role in making zero-emission mobility a reality for American consumers.”

Electric motor assembly us the fifth addition to the Decherd operations, which began production in 1997. The new assembly line will be located within the existing facility using 100,000 sq ft of available floor space, and will have automated, equipment including wire winding machines, magnetisation and magnet insertion equipment, varnishing and hot press equipment and test equipment.

The 1.2m sqft plant currently produces engines and components for vehicles built in North America, and also has engine casting and forging operations. The plant currently can produce 950,000 engines, 1.1m crankshaft forgings and 192,000 cylinder blocks annually.

Nissan will produce Leaf batteries at its Smyrna. The lithium-ion battery plant is on track for operation late next year around the same time Leaf production is targeted to begin there.