Nissan Motor has started the production of its electric Nissan Leaf at its Oppama facility as the vehicle is slated to go on sale in December in Japan and the US, and from early 2011, in select markets in Europe.

Nissan has modified the Oppama Plant, which also manufactures gasoline models such as Nissan Juke and Nissan Cube, for the production of the Nissan Leaf, an EV to be produced for the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Part of the plant’s assembly line has been customized to mount battery modules at the stage of production where fuel tanks are traditionally installed, and motors and inverters at the point where engines are installed in gasoline-powered vehicles, applying the Nissan Production Way.

Nissan Leaf’s lithium-ion battery module containing 4 battery cells are assembled at Zama operation of Automotive Energy Supply, a joint-venture of Nissan Motor and NEC, and then shipped to Nissan Oppama facility, where 48 of them are assembled into the EV’s battery pack.

The Oppama plant will have the capacity to produce 50,000 units annually and the company also plans to begin the production of Nissan Leaf in the US at Smyrna, Tennessee in late 2012 and at Sunderland in the UK in early 2013.

Nissan executive vice president of manufacturing, Hidetoshi Imazu said that Oppama will serve as the ‘Mother Plant’ for the production of Nissan Leaf and the company will use all of the know-how and learning from Oppama to ensure the highest quality at all sites that manufacture Nissan EVs.