By Paul Rachwal
Wednesday, Aug 29th, 2012 @ 3:14 pm
 
As part of its relationship with Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Nissan North America has donated two of its all-electric Leaf cars and three charging stations to the school. Nissan operates an assembly line in Rutherford County, where the university is also located.

The two cars will be used by the university staff, while the charging stations will be available to all visitors, staff, faculty, and students at the Murfreesboro campus. Both the school and Nissan are the largest employers in the county and Nissan recruits heavily at the college.

Kevin Martin, the Quality Engineering Americas director at Nissan's Smyrna plant, said he hopes students who see the cars are inspired to pursue a career related to advancing technology.

The Nissan plant, which was opened in 1983, can produce up to 550,000 vehicles per year. It invested $2.5 billion into the factory. The Leaf will begin to be produced at the Smyrna plant before year's end. In the fall, the Japanese manufacturer also plans to build the first lithium-ion battery factory in the U.S.

Nissan also donated a Titan pickup truck to MTSU, which is due to arrive at a later date.

The Leafs were 2011 models, but the 2013 models get a more efficient heater, optional leather upholstery and an upgraded charger that's twice as efficient as the current one.