Nissan Motor’s UK sales unit is adamant no decision has yet been made on building electric vehicles at the plant in north east England.

Unnamed executives earlier told a Sunday newspaper the carmaker was “likely” to begin EV output at Sunderland following last week’s announcement of plans to build lithium-ion battery plants in Britain and Portugal with alliance partner Renault.

The Nissan statement saying each plant would build 60,000 packs a year, and that Sunderland would be the European ‘mother plant’, cited UK prime minister Gordon Brown as saying: “Sunderland could now be a strong contender to produce electric vehicles for Nissan in Europe, and we will continue to work with Nissan to ensure this happens.”

Nissan executives told The Sunday Times that the English car factory was almost certain to start making electric vehicles from 2012.

“You don’t set up to make batteries if you don’t intend to make cars there,” said one source.

Asked if Nissan had definitely decided to build EVS here, a spokeswoman said: “No.”

She said Nissan plants have to tender to build new models and nothing had been decided or announced.

Nissan will end production of the popular Micra small car in the UK next year when output of the redesigned model begins at a new JV in India. It has said a small crossover will replace it on one of the two assembly lines in Sunderland which also builds the Note and Qashqai (Dualis).

Graeme Roberts