One North East and Nissan sign agreement on Electric Vehicles

Regional Development Agency One North East and car manufacturer Nissan, have entered the next phase of their partnership on the development of zero emission mobility in North East England.

The two parties have signed a definitive agreement which sets out a road map for the roll-out of electric vehicles and infrastructure in North East England and cements the region’s status as the national centre for the development of ultra low carbon vehicles.

The agreement also contains firm commitments on incentives for drivers and education and demonstration initiatives that will be introduced throughout 2010 and 2011.

Under the agreement, One North East will install at least 619 publicly available, ‘future-proof’ charging points by January 1, 2011, which will support both 3kW and 7kW charges and will also include twelve 50kW ‘rapid-charging’ stations.

Electricity at the 619 charging points will be provided free of charge until March 31, 2012, or until an itemised billing system becomes available. As part of the agreement, One North East has already installed two charging points for public use within its own head office car park at Newburn Riverside in Newcastle.

Nissan has agreed to work in partnership with One North East to supply Nissan LEAF electric vehicles to the region in early 2011 and to place priority on requests for electric vehicles in the UK from North East England.

Nissan LEAF is the world’s first affordable electric vehicle for the global mass market and will go on sale in Japan, the US and Europe in late 2010. Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, the medium-size hatchback comfortably seats five adults and has a range of more than 160km (100 miles) to satisfy real-world consumer requirements.

Margaret Fay, Chairman of One North East, and Trevor Mann, Nissan’s Senior Vice President for Manufacturing in Europe, formally signed the historic agreement this morning at Nissan’s Sunderland car factory, which will also produce batteries for electric vehicles in the future.

One North East will now work with regional partners on developing incentives for people driving electric vehicles that include introducing at least 200 free of charge, dedicated public parking places by November 2010, and introducing preferential access to identified road lanes and city areas. The Agency is also working with developers to have charging points installed in newly constructed buildings which feature parking spaces.

One North East Chairman Margaret Fay said: “Today marks a significant step forward in our ambitions to become a leading global location for ultra low carbon vehicles. The commitments we are making today will show industry and consumers alike that North East England is serious about electric vehicles. We look forward to stimulating and shaping this emerging industry which will create new jobs for our region and help to reduce CO2 emissions.”

“With no tailpipe and no emissions, Nissan LEAF redefines the automotive experience – and delivers the performance, roominess, comfort, safety features and quality that people expect from Nissan," said Trevor Mann. "Thanks to One North East’s efforts, the necessary conditions – including infrastructure and incentives – will soon be in place to allow rapid adoption of Nissan LEAF and other electric vehicles in this region."

The Definitive Agreement also includes One North East’s commitment to a £2.4m investment in the National Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and a £2.3m investment in the Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Development Centre.

This definitive agreement on zero emission mobility between One North East and Nissan replaces the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two parties in March 2009 under which they agreed to start cooperating on the introduction and expansion of electric vehicles in the region. Since that agreement was signed, a number of advances in electric vehicle development have taken place in North East England, including the creation of the UK’s first Low Carbon Economic Area for Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles.