Sunderland, March 23, 2012: Nissan has today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Gateshead College to develop a Zero Emission Centre of Excellence in the North East of England.
The new centre will act as a business incubator for the electric vehicle industry, creating jobs in the region and developing knowledge and technology. Research and development will initially focus on charging infrastructure and battery second life.
Nissan has a longstanding relationship with Gateshead College for the training and development of staff at its record-breaking Sunderland Plant. The two organisations have also worked together to develop the Gateshead College Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing and Innovation, and through the college’s lease of the test track at Nissan Sunderland Plant for the Zero Carbon Futures Performance Track for the low carbon vehicle industry.
The ZECE will also act as a home for the manufacturing of Nissan’s cutting edge quick charger technology, which allows ChadeMo compliant electric vehicles to charge to 80% in just 30 minutes. This follows an agreement with charging station manufacturer DBT to set up a new production facility at the centre which will produce up to 1,000 units a year for the European market.
The target is to have a network of quick charge stations across Europe with thousands of units in place by the end of 2015. To kick start this ambitious programme Nissan is giving 400 units away to Zero Emissions Mobility partners and volunteering companies in Europe.
The Centre will also investigate the best opportunities for second life use of lithium-ion batteries that have been used previously in Nissan’s electric vehicles. Among the applications to be explored, the Zero Emission Centre of Excellence will focus on solutions to store the energy produced from renewable sources.
At the heart of this centre will be the development of skills and the creation of jobs and apprenticeships building on Gateshead College’s track record in linking manufacturers with a trained workforce in this new sector. All of these activities are aimed at sustaining Nissan and Gateshead College’s leadership position in the electric vehicle industry.
Etienne Henry, Vice President of Product Strategy and Planning at Nissan International SA and Head of the company’s Zero Emission Business Unit in Europe, commented: “This project will help Nissan to investigate the unique opportunities that our electric vehicle business brings as regards to charging infrastructure and battery second life.
“For many of these aspects of our business we will need commercial partners, funding or the agreement of public and private entities and this agreement with Gateshead College will help us do that. With production of the Nissan LEAF coming to Sunderland in early 2013, the North East will become the epicentre of electric vehicle expertise in Europe.”
Richard Thorold, Principal of Gateshead College, said: “This is a significant day for both partners and more significantly the Low Carbon Vehicle sector of not just North East England but the whole of Europe. For the College, it will be an historic day, advancing our partnership with Nissan in a new and globally leading direction.
“Gateshead College is proud to be Nissan Sunderland Plant’s preferred training provider and of the role we have played in helping the plant become the largest in UK automotive history by ensuring a workforce that is well trained, flexible and adaptable. This exciting new development will build upon recent investments by Nissan, the North East of England,
the UK Government and the College, and takes us forward as a centre at the forefront of international automotive and low carbon technology.”
Alexandre Borgoltz, DBT Development Manager, commented: “This is a great opportunity for DBT to increase our production capacity and will mean the North East of England will provide the complete value chain for the EV industry: battery, vehicle and charging stations. DBT will benefit from the activity generated in the UK by Nissan and will be manufacturing in a region famous for the quality of its workforce.”
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