European fund supports production of Nissan LEAF

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The European Investment Bank has agreed to support production of Nissan’s first electric car to be built in Europe and the company’s first European production of electric vehicle batteries.

An agreement for €220m (£137.3m) of funding was signed in Sunderland by Trevor Mann, Nissan Europe senior vice-president for manufacturing, and Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank vice-president for the UK.

European Investment Bank funding will support the integration of new machinery and tooling for production of the Nissan LEAF, which goes into production in Sunderland in 2013 with an initial production capacity of around 50,000 vehicles a year.

The funding is also supporting construction of the company’s new European Mother Plant for the production of lithium-ion electric vehicle battery cells at the Sunderland plant in 2012.

According to a statement, the battery and LEAF projects represent a £420m investment by Nissan and are expected to maintain about 2,250 jobs at the company and across the UK supply chain.

The investment is also supported by a £20.7m Grant for Business Investment (GBI) from the UK government.

‘New Nissan investment to produce the Nissan LEAF model demonstrates the commercial emergence of electric vehicles from research-intensive concept cars,’ said Brooks. ‘The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting competitive electric vehicle and battery technology that can contribute to improving air quality and tackling climate change.’