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Europe: Nissan to accelerate EV skills with new centre of excellence

Nissan is set to develop a centre of excellence for electric vehicles in the North-East to link up with the company’s Sunderland plant, where all-electric LEAF models will start to roll off the production line next year.

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Gateshead College to establish the Zero Emission Centre of Excellence (ZECE), which it hopes will act as a “business incubator for the electric vehicle industry”.

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The ZECE will initially focus on charging infrastructure and battery second life. It is expected to house the manufacturing operation for Nissan’s quick charger technology, which allows compliant electric vehicles to charge to 80 per cent in half an hour. Nissan has an agreement in place with charging station manufacturer DBT to set up a new production facility at the centre, which should produce up to 1,000 units a year for the European market.

Projects investigating the potential for using expired Lithium-ion batteries to store energy from renewable sources will also be undertaken.

Etienne Henry, head of Nissan’s Zero Emission Business Unit in Europe, said that with the potential for the centre to create jobs and apprenticeships, and production of the Nissan LEAF coming to Sunderland in early 2013, the North-East would become “the epicentre of electric vehicle expertise in Europe”.
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