“YOU are making the whole country proud.”
That was the message from Prime Minister David Cameron to Nissan’s Wearside workforce as he visited Sunderland for the launch of work on the all-electric Leaf.
He urged staff at the record-breaking plant to keep up the good work.
“Keep investing, keep growing, keep producing these great motor vehicles. Your country is very, very proud of you,” he said.
The plant’s success was proof of the vitality of British manufacturing, said Mr Cameron.
The Prime Minister was joined by senior company executives and journalists from as far afield as Russia and the Czech Republic.
“This is a great day for Nissan in Sunderland,” he said.
“For 27 years you have been at it – you are the most efficient car plant in Europe, you are one of the most efficient car plants in the world.
“It is also a great day for the British car industry. The British car industry has shown incredible resilience and growth over a difficult period.”
He confirmed the Government was examining the possibility of using the Leaf for official business.
“That is something we are looking at,” said Mr Cameron.
“The electric car is going to be a great boon for cities – no noise pollution, no petrol or diesel pollution and very low running costs.”
Celebrity Leaf owners Red Dwarf actor Robert Llewellyn and former Radio 1 and Metro Radio DJ Mark Goodier were also among the guests at yesterday’s launch.
Robert has been a dedicated fan of electric vehicles since working in California a decade ago, and Mark owns one of the first two first Leafs imported into the UK.
“I just pestered them for a long time until they just gave in and let me have the first one,” Mark said.
“There was me and another bloke, and we were the first on the street at half-seven in the morning.
“They were going to ship them out later, but I had a radio show to do.”
Robert has travelled all over the country in his Leaf.
He believes concerns over the car’s range have been massively over-stated but emphasised the need to expand the UK’s charger network.
“The furthest I have done is 278 miles in a day of filming,” he said.
“It was the availability of quick chargers that made that possible.”