WEARSIDE’S electric revolution is switched on today.
Sunderland’s Nissan plant is officially starting production of the new 100 per cent electric Leaf.
The new model, incorporating more than 100 updates, is a double landmark for the factory, with the cars using advanced lithium-ion batteries manufactured in the company’s new UK battery plant next to the factory.
Today’s launch comes three years after the firm confirmed the Sunderland plant had won the race to build the revolutionary car for the European market.
Together, the battery plant and Leaf production are supporting jobs for more than 2,000 people in the UK car industry, including more than 500 directly at Nissan.
Nissan’s executive vice-president Andy Palmer was the man who first announced Leaf was coming to Sunderland – and he was at the plant this morning to celebrate the start of production.
He said: “Today’s announcement progresses Nissan’s unwavering commitment to zero-emissions motoring.
“The Nissan Leaf is our most technically advanced car yet, and the launch of this new model, built along with its batteries in Sunderland, is a huge boost not only for the plant but for British manufacturing.
“We have been showing that you can operate a world-beating plant in the UK for almost 30 years, and the construction of the battery plant is a vote of confidence in the country’s ability to support high-technology manufacturing.
“We could not have reached this point without the support and commitment we have enjoyed from governments across Europe, especially the British Government, who are backing the car industry on manufacturing and charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
“I would also like to once again place on record our thanks to our many partners and their strong belief in zero-emissions motoring.”
Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the Wearside workforce who are making Leaf a reality. He said: “Nissan’s record-breaking year last year is a success story for UK volume car manufacturing and demonstrates how our automotive industry is competing and thriving in the global race. I warmly welcome the production of the new electric LEAF model and battery plant at Sunderland.”