30.11.2011 Nissan plant receives £189m investment
Production of the all-electric LEAF and its batteries at Nissan's Sunderland plant will be supported by a £189 million investment from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The development of the LEAF and its electric batteries represent a £420 million investment by Nissan, and expected to maintain 2,250 jobs at Nissan and across the UK supply chain. Nissan has also already received a £20.7 million Government Grant for Business Investment.
The EIB funding will support the integration of new machinery and tooling for the vehicle and battery production. Lithium ion electric batteries, used to power the LEAF will be manufactured in Sunderland from early 2012, with the vehicle itself beginning production at the same site in 2013 with an initial production capacity of around 50,000 vehicles per year.
Nissan have already sold over 20,000 LEAF models worldwide, but sales in the UK have been slower than initially expected. Nevertheless, the LEAF has certainly played a major role in increasing electric vehicle awareness among the public, and has won numerous prestigious awards this year, including the European Car of the Year award and 2011 World Car of the Year.
Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank Vice President for the UK, said, "New Nissan investment to produce the Nissan LEAF model demonstrates the commercial emergence of electric vehicles from research intensive concept cars. The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting competitive electric vehicle and battery technology that can contribute to improving air quality and tackling climate change."
Trevor Mann, Nissan Europe Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, said, "The Nissan LEAF has already made history as the world's first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and we are all very excited about battery and LEAF production beginning at Sunderland for our European market. We are extremely grateful for this support from the European Investment Bank, who share our vision and commitment for the roll-out of zero-emission transport."
A comprehensive charging network is essential to accelerate electric vehicle purchases, and is currently under rapid development in the UK. North East England alone will have over 1,000 charge points by 2013, including quick chargers capable of refuelling a Nissan LEAF with an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Nissan's network of EV dealers – currently 32 sites across the UK – will all be equipped with a quick charger.
Reduction of carbon emissions through the transport sector is a key objective of European Investment Bank lending to tackle climate change. Support for development of electric vehicle technology and battery research will help improve specialist skills and understanding of the sector.
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