Nissan Motor Co. plans to invest up to $1 billion to produce electric vehicles in a plant in Smyrna, Tennessee to tap U.S. government funds for green vehicles, the Nikkei business daily reported on Friday.

Nissan's overall investment is estimated at 50 billion yen ($516.4 million) but may increase to 100 billion yen, the Japanese paper said. The automaker's investment includes production of the vehicle’s batteries in partnership with NEC Corp, also in the Smyrna facility, according to the report.

The Smyrna plant can produce from 50,000 to 100,000 green vehicles annually by 2012, and Nissan is expected to build a small car first, the report said without giving details about its source.

Nissan has applied for a loan under the U.S. government program to support fuel-efficient cars, Nissan spokesman Fred Standish said, according to Bloomberg. However he declined to comment on the Nikkei report.

Nissan said in late April it will introduce zero-emission vehicles in the United States in 2010 and will mass market them globally two years later. The firm intends to assemble up to 50,000 electric cars per year in Japan beginning in fall 2010, Nikkei reported yesterday.