UK: Nissan strengthens EV ties with north east college

23 March 2012 | News | Source: Graeme Roberts

Nissan has signed a memorandum of understanding with Gateshead College to develop a 'Zero Emission Centre of Excellence' (ZECE) in north east England close to its Sunderland car plant whcih is scheduled to build the 'zero emissions' Leaf EV fron 2013.

"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," the automaker said in a statement.

The automaker has a longstanding relationship with Gateshead College for the training and development of staff at the 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 Sunderland, the Zero Carbon Futures Performance Track for the low carbon vehicle industry.

The ZECE will also be home to manufacturing Nissan’s quick charger technology which allows ChadeMo-compliant electric vehicles to charge to 80% of battery capacity in only 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 sale in Europe.

The target is to have a network of quick charge stations across the continent with thousands of units in place by the end of 2015. To kick start this ambitious programme, Nissan is giving away 400 units 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 EVs. Among the applications to be explored, the ZECE will focus on technology to store 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," the automaker said.

Etienne Henry, who heads product strategy and planning at Nissan International, and the automaker's zero emission business unit in Europe, added: “This project will help 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 Leaf coming to Sunderland in early 2013, the north east will become the epicentre of electric vehicle expertise in Europe.”

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