Nissan donates LEAF vehicles, charging stations to...

Nissan donates LEAF vehicles, charging stations to MTSU

Nissan North America Inc. has donated two Nissan LEAF cars and three charging stations to Middle Tennessee State University to promote the use of electric-vehicle technology.

MTSU officials said the Nissan LEAF cars will be added to the university’s motor pool. The charging stations will be available for use by students, faculty, staff and visitors on the Murfreesboro campus.

“As Nissan and MTSU are two of the largest employers in Rutherford County, our future and success are, in many ways, intertwined,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said at the Aug. 28 announcement event. “This is a significant expansion in the relationship we have enjoyed with Nissan.

“It is another step in building a stronger partnership between our two organizations. We look forward to learning more about Nissan’s innovations in electric-vehicle technology by putting these vehicles to work for our university.”

Watch a brief video from the announcement ceremony here.

Nissan’s Rutherford County plant in Smyrna, one of its three U.S. production plants, opened in June 1983. The vehicle assembly plant has an annual production capacity of 550,000 vehicles and represents a capital investment of $2.5 billion. Nissan plans to open a new plant in Smyrna this fall to produce lithium-ion batteries for the Nissan LEAF — the first facility of its kind in the United States.

Kevin Martin, director of Nissan Parts Quality Engineering, said the MTSU donation “builds on the long-standing relationship between Nissan and MTSU, and it points to our mutual passion for quality — both in engineering and in education.”

“We hope that the innovation behind the Nissan LEAF inspires MTSU students interested in advanced technology,” Martin added.

Nissan North America’s Kevin Martin speaks on the Keathley University Center Knoll about the LEAF electric vehicles as media and passers-by observe. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Martin said the Nissan LEAF is 100 percent electric and available in all states. Its features include:

  • many interior fabrics developed by Nissan from recycled materials, such as plastic water bottles;
  • LED headlights, which use about half the energy of traditional headlights;
  • an available solar-panel spoiler that converts sunlight to energy, charging the 12-volt accessory battery and powering accessories like the interior lights and entertainment system;
  • an equivalent city mileage of 106 mpg, a top speed of about 90 mph and an estimated range of up to 100 miles on a full charge.

The automaker also donated a Titan pickup truck to the university, Martin said.

Headquartered in Franklin, Tenn., Nissan North America coordinates all operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico, including automotive styling, consumer and corporate financing, and engineering. About 370 of Nissan’s employees are MTSU graduates, company officials said.

Nissan first came to the United States to sell vehicles in 1958 and began importing and making Datsun vehicles in the United States under the Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation name in 1960.

In 1990, Nissan North America Inc. was created to coordinate all of Nissan’s various activities in North America to enhance the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of Nissan vehicles. In 1998, the two organizations merged operations under the Nissan North America Inc. name.

— Andrew Oppmann (