RAC Cars News


Nissan Boosts Britain's Manufacturing Sector

By raccars Published

In excellent news for the struggling UK manufacturing economy, Nissan has announced that the latest version of its compact electric hatchback, the Leaf, will be built in Britain, at the Japanese manufacturer's ultra-successful Sunderland plant.

Previously built in Japan and the United States, the updated Leaf's migration to Sunderland is expected to create 2,000 jobs within the automotive sector, of which at least 500 should be at the Sunderland factory. The plant already employs more than 6,000 people and since its opening in 1986, has produced over seven million cars. Last year, the Sunderland factory broke records by becoming the first car factory in the United Kingdom to manufacture more than half a million vehicles per annum.

Nissan will be investing some £420 million in the venture, in line with continuing success for the Japanese brand, at home and abroad. The all-electric Leaf is a leader in the eco-citycar class and the facelifted version is expected to bring more plaudits to Nissan, with recharging time reduced by 50% and a longer range of 123 miles, compared to the original vehicle's somewhat miserly and impractical 75 miles.

The Leaf has been an international success for Nissan, with more than 50,000 units sold worldwide so far. While it's expensive to buy (£20,000 plus, even with a £5,000 government subsidy), zero emissions means road tax, congestion charges and running costs are negligible. The car has been praised for its performance which, unlike earlier electric-powered vehicles, is comparable to a traditional combustion engine.

Power comes from modern lithium-ion batteries, which are also to be manufactured in the United Kingdom, at the new Nissan UK Battery Plant. Nissan claims the Leaf is its most technically advanced car ever and expects the updated version to continue the multi-award winning original's outstanding success.

One of the drawbacks of electric cars to date has been reduced performance in cold weather, but the 2013 Leaf has been designed to combat this problem and add at least 20 miles to the car's range on a full charge. The improvements are due to a combination of an improved heating system, a more efficient regenerative braking system, vehicle weight reductions and more advanced aerodynamics. Other updated features for the 2013 model include more cabin room and higher equipment levels.

The British government and automotive industry are hoping the Leaf's arrival on UK shores will help to bolster the country's much beleaguered manufacturing industry, along with extensive government investment.

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