The European Investment Bank has agreed to support production of Nissan’s first electric car to be built in Europe and the company’s first European production of electric vehicle batteries.
Agreement for EUR 220 m funding from the European Union’s long-term lending institution was signed in Sunderland by Trevor Mann, Nissan Europe Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, and Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank Vice President for the United Kingdom.
European Investment Bank funding will support the integration of new machinery and tooling for production of the 100% electric Nissan LEAF, the world’s first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle. The Nissan LEAF, the reigning European Car of the Year, will go into production in Sunderland in 2013 with an initial production capacity of around 50,000 vehicles a year.
This funding is also supporting construction of the company’s new European Mother Plant for the production of lithium-ion electric vehicle battery cells at Sunderland Plant. Together the battery and LEAF projects represent a £420m (EUR 468.2m) investment by Nissan, and are expected to maintain about 2,250 jobs at Nissan and across the UK supply chain. The investment is also supported by a £20.7m (EUR 23.1m) Grant for Business Investment (GBI) from the UK Government.
Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank Vice President for the UK, said “New Nissan investment to produce the Nissan LEAF model demonstrates the commercial emergence of electric vehicles from research intensive concept cars. 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.”
Trevor Mann, Nissan Europe Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, said: “The Nissan 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.
“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”.
Production of electric batteries at Nissan Sunderland Plant is planned for early 2012. This project will both safeguard local employment in advanced engineering and create new jobs for the battery plant. A comprehensive charging network is currently under development in the UK. North East England alone will have over 1,000 charge points by 2013, including quick chargers capable of refuelling a Nissan LEAF from when the empty warning light switches onto an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Nissan’s network of EV dealers – currently 32 sites across the UK – will all be equipped with a quick charger.
Reduction of carbon emissions linked to transport is a key objective of European Investment Bank lending to tackle climate change. Support for development of electric vehicle technology and battery research will help improve specialist skills and understanding of the sector. The European Investment Bank has funded electric vehicle development with a number of European manufacturers, alongside financing expansion of dedicated networks and charging stations across Europe.
Deliveries of Nissan LEAF have already begun in the UK, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, France, Spain, Switzerland and Portugal. Order books have also opened in Belgium Norway, Sweden and Denmark with customers in those markets expected to start receiving their cars in the New Year.