Renault-Nissan first European plant of lithium-ion batteries

 Toshiyuki Shiga, chief operating officer of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., carried out the groundbreaking ceremony at Nissan’s Sunderland car plant to mark the beginning of the £210-million project.

The 25,000m2 facility will be operational in early 2012 with an initial annual production capacity of 60,000 units and will supply batteries for both Nissan and Renault electric vehicles (EVs). The plant is expected to create 200 new Nissan jobs and a further 600 across the UK supply chain.

The Alliance has previously announced that a second battery facility will be located in Cacia, Portugal and has also announced plans to produce batteries at Renault’s Flins plant in France.

Last month, Nissan confirmed thatSunderlandwill also become a production location for the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle – the world’s first affordable mass-produced zero-emission vehicle.

Nissan LEAF will be launched in 2013 on the plant’s ‘Number 2’ production line alongside the recently unveiled JUKE compact crossover car, which enters production in August 2010.

Nissan’s Oppama Plant in Japanwill be the first plant globally to begin producing LEAF later this year, and will support the car’s UKsales launch in early 2011. The Nissan LEAF and advanced lithium-ion batteries willalsobe produced at Nissan’s Smyrnaplant in theUSAfrom late 2012.

Nissan is also continuing to invest in a portfolio of low-emission technologies (called PureDrive) such as clean diesels, efficient internal-combustion engines and hybrids.

Speaking at the battery plant groundbreaking ceremony, Shiga commented: “Europe will play a key role in the Alliance’s global commitment to offer an emission-free future for road transport, and today marks another important step towards that goal.

“When operational, the battery plants in both Sunderland and Portugal will support the launch of zero-emission electric vehicles across Europe on an unprecedented scale.”

Sunderland Plant’s battery facility will provide a centrepiece for the North East region in its capacity as a Low Carbon Economic Area*.

In March, Regional Development Agency One North East announced that a National Training Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing will also be established adjacent to Nissan’s car plant.

The centre will give learners access to the latest technology and sustainable production methods and Nissan will contribute ‘best-practise’ skills sharing in lean manufacturing, logistics and maintenance.

Low Carbon Economic Areas (LCEAs) form part of the Government’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy by aiming to pull together national, local and regional agencies to focus on accelerating the growth of low carbon industries, skills base and supply chain.

The North East LCEA will focus on supporting the transformation of the automotive industry, providing support for innovation, demonstration and skills training.

NISSAN LEAF at a glance:

* World’s first affordable, mass produced electric car
* Five-seater C-segment hatchback
* Powered by an 80kW electric motor
* Charges to 80% of capacity in under 30 minutes (rapid charging)
* Real-world range: 160 km (100 miles US LA4 mode)
* Top speed of more than 140 km/h (90 mph)
* Produced on all-new dedicated EV platform

Sunderland Plant facts:

* Established in 1984 (start of production 1986)
* Total investment in plant to date: 2.68 billion GBP (2.99 billion euros)
* Total volume since start of production: 5.6 million units
* Total 2009 volume: 338,000 units
* Current workforce: 4,200 employees
* UK’s largest car producer and exporter
* Produced a third of all cars built in the UK in 2009
* Current model line-up: Qashqai, Qashqai +2, Note and Micra