Sunderland-based Nissan drives ahead with electric car charging points

Trevor Mann (left), Nissan UK Production Director, shows a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle to Simon Brooks, UK Vice President of the European Investment Bank at the company's Sunderland site.

Trevor Mann (left), Nissan UK Production Director, shows a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle to Simon Brooks, UK Vice President of the European Investment Bank at the company's Sunderland site.

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NISSAN has unveiled plans to fund a network of electric car charging points on Britain’s motorways.

The firm has also received nearly £190million from the European Investment Bank to support production of the Leaf and construction of the battery plant.

Nissan is due to begin building 50,000 Leafs – the world’s first all-electric family car – a year at its Sunderland plant from 2013.

But bosses admit some drivers still have worries over the range of the battery-powered vehicles.

Now Nissan’s British operation is bidding for a share of 400 Quick Charge terminals the firm is giving away to be installed across Europe.

In the UK, Nissan has put in a bid for 65 chargers to be strategically located at service stations along the motorway network.

The firm has already opened talks with the three largest motorway service station chains.

The chargers will allow electric vehicle (EV) drivers to travel longer distances in a day, providing an 80 per cent charge (enough to travel up to 80 miles) in half an hour.

Jim Wright, managing director of Nissan Motor (GB), said: “While we are confident that the Leaf’s range will satisfy most customers’ needs, we understand some will need to make occasional longer journeys.

“Our vision is to create a pathway charging network which would remove so called range anxiety, and open up pure EV ownership to a whole new spectrum of drivers.”

There was more good news for Nissan, with an agreement to support production of the Leaf and the opening of the firm’s new European battery production centre at Sunderland, due to start early next year.

The European Investment Bank will provide nearly £190million to support the integration of new machinery and tooling for production of the Leaf and construction of the battery plant.

It brings Nissan’s total EV investment on Wearside to £420million, and is expected to maintain about 2,250 jobs at the firm and across the UK supply chain.

The investment is also supported by a £20.7million Grant for Business Investment from the UK Government.

Simon Brooks, the European Investment Bank’s vice-president for the UK, visited the Wearside plant to put pen to paper on the deal.

“New Nissan investment to produce the Leaf demonstrates the commercial emergence of electric vehicles from research intensive concept cars,” he said.

“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.”

Plant boss Trevor Mann said: “The 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.”

He added: “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.”

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