In 2010 Nissan launched the world’s first mass produced electric car available from a major manufacturer, the LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car).
Launched in Japan and the US initially, it is now available in the UK and forms part of the government’s £43 million subsidy scheme for electric vehicles, which provides buyers with a discount of up to £5000 on any one of nine eligible electric cars.
Production is so far being undertaken in Japan, but from 2013, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) in Sunderland is expected to manufacture 50,000 LEAF cars per annum. A plant to produce lithium-ion batteries for the LEAF is currently under construction at the Sunderland site and is due to go into production in January 2012. The building of additional battery plants in Portugal, France and the US will follow over the next two years.
The LEAF electric car represented relatively uncharted territory for the automotive manufacturer so investment in a new plant for production of the batteries was required. Before building the UK plant however, Nissan’s team of engineers in Sunderland had to demonstrate that the throughput volumes currently delivered in Japan could be matched.