Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
North-East carmaker happy with all-electric car production levels
A NORTH-EAST carmaker has made 4,000 models of its ground-breaking electric car, The Northern Echo can reveal.
Nissan, based in Sunderland, says its £420m project to enter the plug-in car market with its all-electric Leaf has been a success, with strong demand for the five-seater hatchback.
The Japanese manufacturer created 560 posts at its plant after winning the race to build the Leaf for the European market, and says it expects the wave of interest to be the catalyst for increased clamour for more electric vehicles.
Work on the Leaf, which is the world's first mass market electric vehicle and can travel about 125 miles on a single charge, started earlier this year.
The company has capacity to make up to 50,000 Leafs every year in Sunderland, and opened a £200m battery plant next to its Wearside plant in January to power the cars.
Nissan says the project has strengthened 1,500 jobs across the North-East supply chain, including Sunderland-based Argus Powerbend, which employs about 100 workers and makes tubular seat frames for the Leaf.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan's vice-president for manufacturing in the UK, said the company had been buoyed by production levels of the car, which features 100 refinements, including reduced charging times, on the first generation Leafs that were made in Japan.
He said: “Things are going well and we have made about 4,000 vehicles.
“This car has many upgrades and we are on target and in line with there we expected to be in production.”
The project received high praise from Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited the factory in March and stuck a Nissan badge on a car bonnet as it passed on the production line.
Mr Cameron said: “The North-East has shown that it can compete with the best in the world.”
The Leaf was a first of a number new Nissan models that the Sunderland plant will make in the next three years.
On Monday, the factory officially started work on the new Note hatchback, which has created 400 new North-East jobs and will compete against the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio.
Sunderland will also become the first Nissan plant in Europe to make the Infiniti, Nissan's premium sister brand, in 2015, and make the next generation Qashqai.
Comments are closed on this article.