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Nissan Sees Leaf Sales Doubling as Factory Begins Production

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Nissan Motor Co. (7201), Japan’s second- largest carmaker, will overcome a slowdown in deliveries of its all-electric Leaf vehicle, doubling U.S. sales to 20,000 during its current fiscal year, the vice chairman of its U.S. unit said.

A new plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, will be ready to make the cars in December, helping boost supply before the fiscal year ends in March, Nissan’s Bill Krueger said in an interview yesterday in Los Cabos, Mexico, where he was visiting for the B-20 business summit. The automaker also is expanding sales nationally after beginning in seven states, he said.

Leaf sales have dropped the past two months, trailing General Motors Co. (GM)’s rechargeable Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s plug-in Prius in May. Volt deliveries more than tripled to 1,680 units in May, while Leaf sales fell 55 percent to 510. The Leaf is made in a single plant in Japan.

“We’ve had to fulfill demand from one plant globally,” Krueger said. “Once we localize it in December, the second half of the fiscal year is when we’ll see most of the supply, demand be available.”

Japan’s three largest automakers are producing vehicles in North America at a rate indicating each will set records this year.

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