Emission-free Range Rover

The world’s first zero emission, electric 4x4s are to be manufactured by Liberty Electric Cars in Cramlington, Northumberland later this year.

The Oxford-based company has signed an agreement with regional development agency, One North East, to invest £30m into the production of electric vehicles. The project is expected to create 250 new manufacturing jobs and contribute over £120m a year to the local economy.

Alan Clarke, chief executive of One North East, said: ‘This investment is excellent news for the region and places north east England at the forefront of electric vehicle manufacture and infrastructure development.

‘The decision by Liberty Electric Cars to establish a north east manufacturing base reflects its confidence in the region’s skills base and the work we are doing to create an electric charging point infrastructure across the north east to allow electric vehicles to operate to their full potential.’

According to the company, its energy storage and management system technology delivers a better performance compared with existing technology. Electric vehicles have 80 per cent lower running costs than petrol cars and are able to deliver 90 per cent efficiency, compared to 25 per cent from a conventional petrol engine.

Liberty’s first electric vehicle is expected to be a plug-in Range Rover, with production volume likely to be in excess of 1,000 a year. The Liberty Electric Range Rover claims to have a 200-mile range with speeds in excess of 100mph. Future models to incorporate the company’s electric drive train will include the prestige and marques Land Rovers.

Barry Shrier, chief executive of Liberty, said: ‘The Liberty Electric Range Rover takes electric vehicle technology into a new sector, to large luxury cars that people aspire to drive, particularly in cities and urban environments where environmental controls are becoming increasingly tighter.

‘North east England, through the stewardship of One North East, is fast becoming a world leader in clean energy, infrastructure development and electric vehicle manufacturing, which is why we feel that our business will prosper here. We have also been greatly encouraged by the region’s strong academic links.’

Bob Coxon, chairman of the north east England Science and Industry Council, said: ‘The north east’s technology strategy, which has been pursued consistently over many years, is once again paying off with jobs in new growth companies. Our focus on clean energy technology is a key reason for Liberty choosing the north east above other possible locations in the UK and internationally.’

The market for electric cars is forecast for exponential growth as new legislation and social awareness push consumers to make greener transport choices. Liberty hopes that its current prototype and manufacturing programme will give it a head start in the market. Prices for the electric Range Rovers are expected to be in the range of £125,000.