Motoring in to a new era of transport

Pluging-in Durham County Council's new Nissan Leaf is Coun Neil Foster.

Pluging-in Durham County Council's new Nissan Leaf is Coun Neil Foster.

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WORKERS can switch their cars for a greener version as they take the new Nissan Leaf on the roads.

Durham County Council has brought in the new electric car, to give staff a more environmentally-friendly way to get about their business.

The vehicle, due to be made on Wearside from 2013, will be used as a pool car by employees who have previously used their own car as they head out into the community as part of their jobs.

Coun Neil Foster, cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The Nissan Leaf car will be an essential part of the council’s efforts to reduce its impact on the environment and encourage sustainable travel.

“The fact that the car uses low-carbon technology – in which the North East is a recognised leader – and produces zero exhaust emissions can only have a positive impact on the air quality in our city and town centres.”

The car will be based at County Hall, Durham City, where there are already vehicle charging bays.

It adds to the three electric buses the authority owns to run passengers between the city’s railway station and cathedral.

Coun Neil Foster added: “As a council we clearly have a responsibility to support the regional economy, and in choosing the Nissan Leaf we are making clear our commitment to promote future jobs in Sunderland.

“Nissan brings a huge amount to the North East in terms of investment and jobs as well as contracts for local suppliers.”

In Sunderland, the city council is almost half-way through a six-month trial, where it has taken on a Leaf to gain experience of driving and managing one of the models.

A spokesman for Nissan said: “Since arriving in the North East in February, the Nissan Leaf is becoming an increasingly common sight, and we are very much looking forward to production starting at Nissan Sunderland Plant in 2013.”

Owners of a Leaf will pay no road tax, and it is being championed for its cost-effectiveness compared to a petrol or diesel car as a full 109-mile charge will cost less than £2.

In the North East, electric vehicle drivers also benefit from free parking spaces where recharging is currently free.

@EchoEastDurham