Nissan has confirmed its new Leaf electric vehicle will be produced in Sunderland at the start of 2013.
The Japanese brand is expecting an initial annual production of 50,000 units and is investing £420 million in producing the new model which includes battery production.
The investment will be supported by a £20.7 million Grant for Business Investment (GBI) from the Government and a proposed finance package from the European Investment Bank of up to £197.3 million.
The lithium-ion battery production will start in April and will have a production capacity of 60,000 units a year for use in Nissan and Renault electric vehicles. Nissan has already started training UK dealers and technicians in how to service and repair the Leaf.
The Leaf is expected to secure 2,250 jobs at Nissan and across the UK supply chain.
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.”
The production of the Leaf will begin in Oppama, Japan later this year followed by Smyrna, Tennessee, USA in 2012. Sunderland will come on-line in early 2013.
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.
Work to integrate the 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.
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.
- To read more on Nissan's UK plans for the introduction of the Leaf across its UK network see the March 26 issue of AM.