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Europe: Nissan halts battery plant project in Portugal

Nissan Motor has decided to suspend a 156 million euro ($206 million) plant project in debt-laden Portugal, which had been slated to start producing electric vehicle (EV) batteries by late 2012, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

Antonio Pereira-Joaquim said the company had concluded that its four existing electric car plants, including two in Europe, were enough to meet its global battery output plan.

“The Portuguese project is suspended without a date for reactivation. We are going to study alternatives for the use of the building that has already been built,” he said.

“We’ve analyzed our battery output capacity and our four plants basically can make what had been expected to be produced by five plants. The Portuguese plant is the only one that is not adjacent to a Nissan car plant so it was suspended,” he added.

Nissan denied links to the country’s crisis, but the announcement comes at a bad time for Portugal, which is facing its worst recession since the return to democracy in 1974 as it slashes spending under a 78 billion euro bailout.

The projected plant in Aveiro had been set to employ 200 people and designed to be one of the main battery supply bases for both Nissan and Renault’s EVs, starting with Nissan’s Leaf model, launched late last year. The aim was to have an annual output of 50,000 batteries for local use and export by 2015.

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