The facelifted Nissan LEAF, incorporating more than 100 updates, is now rolling off the line at the company’s record-breaking Sunderland Plant, using advanced lithium-ion batteries manufactured in Nissan’s new UK Battery Plant. After four years of preparation at the plant and a previously announced £420m investment by Nissan.
Together the Battery Plant and Nissan LEAF production are supporting jobs for more than 2000 people in the UK car industry, including more than 500 directly at Nissan. Britain’s biggest car manufacturer is now responsible for production of the European-spec LEAFs, which have been updated with more than 100 impovements aimed at making Nissan’s zero-emissions technology accessible to even more drivers. These include an increased driving range of 199km (124 miles) and the ability to recharge in half the time of the first-generation LEAF.
The launch event came as Nissan Sunderland Plant celebrates making more than seven million units since its opening in 1986. Last year it produced 510,572 vehicles and so became the first UK car factory ever to make more than half a million cars in one year. Nissan’s Executive Vice President Andy Palmer celebrated the official start of electric vehicle production with the 6100 staff now employed on site. ‘Today’s announcement progresses Nissan’s unwavering commitment to zero emissions motoring,’ he said.
With more than 55,000 Nissan LEAFs on the world’s roads today, and with two years of real-world zero emissions experience behind it, today’s announcement marks the start of an exciting chapter for Nissan. The Nissan LEAF is now built in three locations worldwide: Sunderland, UK; Smyrna, Tennessee, USA; and Oppama, Japan.
Integrated on the same line as the best-selling Nissan Qashqai, the new LEAF is a major milestone in Nissan’s global zero-emission leadership. In just 12 months, Nissan has increased the number of dealers selling the LEAF from 200 to 1,400 and the number of charging points in Europe has grown from 12,000 to more than 20,000, proving that electric vehicles are becoming increasingly attractive.
The new Nissan LEAF soon will be joined by all-electric versions of the award-winning NV200, to be called e-NV200, in both light commercial van and five-seat combi versions. Development of a dedicated EV taxi based on the e-NV200 is also underway. An Infiniti EV is expected in 2015.