Work starts on Sunderland battery plant

Construction of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s first European plant for the production of advanced lithium-ion batteries has begun in Sunderland, UK.

The 25,000m2 facility, based at Nissan’s Sunderland car plant, 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.

Speaking at theSunderland groundbreaking ceremony, Toshiyuki Shiga, chief operating officer of Nissan Motor Co., commented: "Europe will play a key role in the Alliance’s global commitment to offer an emission-free future for road transport. 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."

Last month, Nissan confirmed that Sunderland will become a production location for the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, which it describes as "the world’s first affordable mass-produced zero-emission vehicle".

The 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.

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