SUNDERLAND has gone live! The city council yesterday switched on four electric vehicle charging points at St Mary’s car park – the first of more than 30 to be rolled out across the city before the end of next month.
Appropriately, the first car to be hooked up to the new posts was a Nissan Leaf. The world’s first affordable electric family car goes on sale in the UK next month and the car giant will start building the Leaf at its Sunderland plant in 2013.
“We have the charging points, we have the cars, it is all systems go,” said city council leader Coun Paul Watson.
“People can come down, they can see the charging points, they can see the cars on the roads – all the ambition is turning into something concrete. It all becomes very understandable when you actually come into the city and see it.”
Nissan plant boss Trevor Mann paid tribute to the hard work that has gone on to position the region at the forefront of the green revolution.
“In some ways, it has been a long time coming but now everything is coming to a head,” he said.
“The cars are here – everybody knows they came off the boat last week – we have unveiled the first charging points and very soon people will be picking their cars up.
“But no manufacturer can do it by themselves – we need the infrastructure, we need the education and we need the public awareness.
“The North East has led the field through the likes of Sunderland City Council and One NorthEast and the commitment of the people at our Sunderland plant to make sure we secured both the car and the battery factory.”
One NorthEast’s Colin Herron has been involved in the process every step of the way.
“Everything has happened so quickly,” he said.
“I remember the first discussions with Government and with Nissan about the possibility of this happening. To actually watch the cars coming off the ship, to be here in the middle of Sunderland and see the charging posts actually in place, is just amazing.”
The costs of the charging points - £188,000 - are being met through direct One North East and Local Transport Plan grants. To find out more about accessing grants for charging points, visit: www.leadthecharge.org.uk
Sunderland’s 30 Elektrobay charging points are being installed in 11 council-run car parks across the city – Civic Centre; St. Mary’s; Sunniside multi-storey, Tatham Street; Station Road, Houghton; Speculation Place, Washington; Boughton Street; Ocean Park, Seaburn; Harbour View, Roker; Nile Street and Barnes Street, Hetton.