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Electric Nissan LEAF to be built in UK

In a much anticipated announcement, Nissan has confirmed that its electric LEAF will be manufactured in the UK, at its plant in Sunderland.

The Nissan LEAF will be the world’s first affordable, mass produced, zero emission five-seater hatchback. It will have a range of 100 miles, a top speed of more than 90 mph, and can charge to 80% of capacity in under 30 minutes thanks to rapid charging.

Nissan also said that construction of its advanced lithium-ion battery plant, announced last year, will begin this April. The facility, which will be located at Sunderland, will have a production capacity of 60,000 units a year and will start manufacturing batteries in 2012 for both Nissan and its Alliance partner Renault.

The production of the LEAF and the batteries represents a total investment of more than £420 million in the Sunderland Plant and is expected to maintain about 2,250 jobs at Nissan and across the UK supply chain. The investment will be supported by a £20.7 million Grant for Business Investment (GBI) from the UK Government and a proposed finance package from the European Investment Bank of up to £197.3 million.

Production of the LEAF will begin in Japan later this year followed by Tennessee, USA in 2012. Sunderland will come on-line in early 2013 with an initial annual production capacity of about 50,000 units.

The three production sites will support the sales launch of the model, which begins in late 2010 in Japan, the United States and selected European markets, ahead of global mass marketing from 2012.

Nissan and its Alliance partner Renault have committed to mass marketing pure electric vehicles on a global scale and together have announced production capacity of 500,000 units per year. To date, the Alliance has entered into more than 50 partnerships worldwide with countries, cities, organisations and other key stakeholders to prepare the markets and infrastructure for the successful adoption of EVs around the world.

Work to integrate Nissan LEAF into Sunderland’s manufacturing process will begin in 2012. The car will be launched on the plant’s ‘Number 2’ production line alongside the recently unveiled Juke compact crossover car, which enters production in August 2010.

Nissan will continue to work in partnership with local and national government in preparation for the UK sales launch of Nissan LEAF in early 2011.

Last December, Nissan and Regional Development Agency One North East signed a definitive agreement on zero emission mobility. The agreement includes the development of a regional network of charging points, supply of Nissan LEAF to the region from early 2011 and a range of incentives for early adopters of EVs, such as a period of free charging and use of dedicated EV lanes.

The UK’s Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “This investment is a fantastic vote of confidence in the Sunderland plant and its excellent workforce. The automotive sector is of key importance to the UK. It supports R&D, technological innovation, skills and a supply chain that’s a mainstay of the wider manufacturing sector.

“Today’s news from Nissan, with support from government, shows that by working together we can achieve our aim of making the UK a world-leader in ultra-low carbon vehicles.”

Andy Palmer, senior vice president at Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and responsible for the company’s global EV strategy, said: “The world is at the dawn of a new era in automotive transport. Nissan LEAF, which will go on sale later this year, is a five-seater hatchback that offers the same space, practicality and performance of a similar car in its class – minus the tailpipe emissions.”

“Thanks to the UK’s firm commitment to a low carbon future in terms of infrastructure, customer incentives and educational programmes, Nissan LEAF will be built at Sunderland, making the UK the third country in the world to produce this revolutionary car.”

Keywords: Nissan LEAF electric vehicle, Nissan Sunderland Plant, lithium-ion battery plant, Regional Development Agency One North East