Plans for a centre of excellence in zero emissions engineering in the north-east of England look set to be realised following a partnership between Nissan and Gateshead College.
The Zero Emissions Centre of Excellence (ZECE) will act as a business incubator for the electric vehicle industry, creating jobs in the region and developing knowledge and technology.
Research and development will initially focus on charging infrastructure and battery second life.
Nissan has a longstanding relationship with Gateshead College for the training and development of staff at its record-breaking Sunderland Plant.
The two organisations have also worked together to develop the Gateshead College Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing and Innovation, and through the college's lease of the test track at Nissan Sunderland Plant for the Zero Carbon Futures Performance Track for the low carbon vehicle industry.
The ZECE will also act as a home for the manufacturing of Nissan’s quick charger technology, which allows ChadeMo compliant electric vehicles to charge to 80% in just 30 minutes.
This follows an agreement with charging station manufacturer DBT to set up a new production facility at the centre which will produce up to 1,000 units a year for the European market.
Etienne Henry, vice president of product strategy and planning at Nissan International and head of the company’s Zero Emission Business Unit in Europe, said: "This project will help Nissan to investigate the unique opportunities that our electric vehicle business brings as regards to charging infrastructure and battery second life.
"For many of these aspects of our business we will need commercial partners, funding or the agreement of public and private entities and this agreement with Gateshead College will help us do that. With production of the Nissan LEAF coming to Sunderland in early 2013, the North East will become the epicentre of electric vehicle expertise in Europe."