Charging towards zero emissions

23 July 2009

Nissan, within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, has announced plans to build two plants for the production of its advanced lithium-ion batteries in Europe
Nissan, within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, has announced plans to build two plants for the production of its advanced lithium-ion batteries in Europe

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, has announced with the governments of the United Kingdom and Portugal, their plans to build two plants for the production of its advanced lithium-ion batteries in Europe.

In doing so, the Renault-Nissan Alliance marks the first significant step towards producing batteries for its Zero Emission Mobility Programme in Europe.

The two governments have offered to extend financial assistance and other support to ensure that Nissan locates the proposed plants within their respective countries. This recognises the contribution that the plants are likely to make to the long term health of both the national and regional economies by being central to the growth of the automotive and associated industries; boosting jobs and the skills sector and pioneering the manufacture and sale of zero emission vehicles in Europe.

After finalising details and concluding discussions with Her Majesty’s Government, the UK site will be located in Sunderland where Nissan already has an existing manufacturing facility. The UK site will be the Nissan European Mother Site for Battery production and the centrepiece of the newly established Low Carbon Economic Area in the North East of England.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “Nissan’s investment in a new battery plant and its hope to start producing electric vehicles here in Sunderland is great news for the local economy, creating up to 350 direct jobs and creating and safeguarding hundreds more in the associated supply chain. This investment is also hugely significant as we embark on Building Britain’s Future, our plan for recovery and beyond powered by low carbon, high technology industries, products and services. Sunderland could now be a strong contender to produce electric vehicles for Nissan in Europe, and we will continue to work with Nissan to ensure this happens.”

As part of the newly established Low Carbon Economic Area, the government intends to establish a new training centre, specialising in low carbon automotive technologies; a technology park and an open access test track for low carbon vehicles.

UK Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: “The North East has distinguished itself as the first specialised region for ultra-low carbon vehicles. This is good news not just for the North East, but for the whole of the UK, helping to attract foreign investment and securing UK’s place as a global leader in high-tech manufacturing and automotive industries. The collaboration between local businesses, universities and colleges will create a hub of expertise to boost innovation and accelerate business growth in this important area of ‘green’ industry.”

Nissan Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Europe, Trevor Mann added: “In March, Nissan and regional development agency One North East signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing both partners to explore fully the North East’s potential to spearhead the UK’s drive towards zero emission mobility. Since then, a great deal of work has been going on at both the local and national level to promote and facilitate the introduction of electric vehicles within the region. Today’s announcement potentially marks another important milestone in establishing low carbon transport as a viable and attractive alternative across the North East and beyond, and reinforces Nissan’s commitment to lead the world in the mass marketing of zero emission vehicles.”

In Portugal several possible sites for the battery plant have been identified and the final selection will be announced at a later date. Last November, Portugal became the first European country to sign a final agreement with the Alliance for implementing a zero emission mobility programme from 2010. Within this plan, the Alliance will supply its EVs from Spring 2011, and the Portuguese Government will leverage an extensive network of 1300 recharging stations that will be in place across Portugal over the next two years.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Sócrates said: “Portugal is one of the first countries in the world to have a national wide charging network for Electric Vehicles, named Mobi-E. This leadership has only been possible thanks to Portugal’s decisive move towards renewable energies; 43% of electricity consumed is produced from clean energies. The introduction of EV will allow the reduction of CO2 emissions and fossil fuel energy dependence on the exterior. Nissan’s investment in a new battery plant of €250M, creating 200 jobs, is very important in terms of job creation, technology, and exports. Besides that, it is a crucial step to transform Portugal into Europe’s EV Eco-Valley.”

Eric Nicolas, Senior Vice President, Administration and Finance, Nissan in Europe, stated: “The zero-emission mobility programme is a priority for the company. At Nissan, as we manage through this global crisis, we continue to prepare for the major evolutions that are occurring in our industry. We are not compromising our efforts to mass-market the electric car. And today, we have taken key step to making zero-emissions a reality.”

The two plants are scheduled to supply the advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles to be produced by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The projected annual capacity for each plant is 60,000 units. Furthermore, the Renault-Nissan Alliance continues its discussion with other governments in Europe to identify other battery plant locations to meet volume requirements.

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