We've been covering the Nissan LEAF with interest for some time and right on track to meet its previously-stated production deadlines, the 100% electric, Nissan LEAF has gone into manufacture at the Oppama facility in Japan.

Pricing and availability for The Nissan LEAF were announced in April and the first exports to United States in November and Europe in December will be in time to meet first sales set for December in Japan and the United States, and in selected European markets from early 2011.

The Oppama plant has an annual production capacity of 50,000 units but new facilities are planned for Smyrna, Tennessee in late 2012, and Sunderland, UK in early 2013. Once under-way these will have the capacity for an annual production capacity of 150,000 and 50,000 units respectively.

The Oppama plant also produces gasoline models such as Nissan Juke and Nissan Cube but part of the assembly line has been modified to mount battery modules at the stage of production where fuel tanks are traditionally installed. Motors and inverters are mounted at the point where engines are installed in gasoline-powered vehicles.

Nissan LEAF is the first 100% electric, zero--local-emission vehicle to be produced for the Renault-Nissan Alliance. To date the company says 80 partnerships have been signed with governments, municipalities and companies worldwide.

"This is a significant milestone, not only for Nissan and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, but also for the entire automotive industry," said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Nissan LEAF offline ceremony. "Consumers are clear. They want sustainable and affordable mobility...and the Alliance is leading the way with cars that deliver exactly that, with the reliability, excitement and performance that consumers demand. The high-quality, innovative Nissan LEAF will radically transform what consumers expect from automobile manufacturers worldwide."