The first mass produced car that is powered exclusively by battery will be manufactured by NISSAN in their factory in Tyne & Wear. A great opportunity for that area of the UK and indeed, for many other factories within the country for the supply of component parts and consumable items to be used within the factory. The announcement safeguards over 2000 jobs in the area and well over 300 million will be invested including a substantial grant from the UK government is to be made.
Lord Mandelson is reported as saying that it is a tremendous vote of confidence in the factory and the network of supporting industry within the UK. The plant is now almost thirty years old and has seen off competition from a number of other NISSAN factories. There will be three factories around the world, in strategic markets that will make the vehicle but the success of the Sunderland plant is surely a ray of light amidst the recent gloom.
This vehicle must surely mark the beginning of a new age of motor manufacture within the UK, with everyone striving to keep emissions and waste to a minimum, NISSAN are clearly taking a great step forward in this arena.
Sales of the new vehicle, named Leaf, will start in Japan later on in 2010 and will then commence in Europe sometime in 2012 with the factory in Sunderland coming on line in 2013. It is hoped that production will reach 50,000 units very quickly the factory will also be producing the Juke, an urban off roader.
The power for the car is provided by lithium-ion batteries and they will be made in a new factory alongside the current plant in Sunderland. This factory is already being built providing much needed employment in the construction industry in the north.
The new vehicle will have a range of around 100milles from a single charge making it ideal for nearly 90% of UK drivers daily journeys. The recharging system will be capable of recharging to
80% of maximum within 30 minutes, although this would be from special high current charging stations. Let us hope that as more manufacturers design these cars, they use or share technology with NISSAN so that all vehicles may be charged at the same stations. I for one do not want to go back to the days where there were five differing types of fuel at a petrol station and you
always managed to get parked by the five star pump when you wanted two star. While there are very few of these charging stations around at present NISSAN have signed an agreement with the regional development agency to introduce 13,000 charging points in the next three years, while London has committed to providing up to 25,000 in a similar period.
There will be incentives to buy the car including free charging and the use of special lanes and routes in towns that conventional cars will not be able to use. Pricing might be a little more tricky, with the vehicle likely to be priced at around the same as other cars in its class but the battery will be paid for separately and the cost is expected to be over £15,000. All is not lost as NISSAN have suggested that a battery leasing scheme may be available enabling users to “rent” or “hire” the battery.

In any event it must be a good thing
to have a zero emission vehicle so close to being commercially available in the UK.