Nissan's UK plant in Sunderland has built its 50,000th Leaf EV. 

The automaker said this was the first time a European carmaker had built 50,000 electric vehicles (EVs) and the batteries which power them.

The milestone silver, Tekna grade Leaf was built last week and destined for France. European-built cars are currently exported to 23 markets in western Europe and other destinations as diverse as Argentina, Iceland, Israel and Taiwan.

Leaf and battery manufacturing was launched in the UK in 2013 and supports over 2,000 jobs at Nissan and in its UK suppliers. This year will see the extended-range 250km version introduced to Europe and the announcement that future generation batteries are confirmed for production in Sunderland – a further GBP26.5m spend on the plant.

Paul Willcox, chairman, Nissan Europe said: "What Nissan is doing today with electric vehicle technology is more advanced than any other car manufacturer. 

"This milestone is another first for Nissan and for our team in Sunderland. No other brand has our experience or expertise in both battery and vehicle production, and I'm thrilled that over 50,000 customers in Europe share our vision for a zero-emission future."   

Five years ago, the Leaf was the first mass-market electric vehicle to go on sale and it remains the best-selling EV of all time with almost 220,000 sold worldwide.

Nissan launched a second EV in Europe in 2014 when the e-NV200 van went into production in the Barcelona plant in Spain – powered by the same European-made batteries as the Leaf.