Nissan is to invest 200 million pounds to build electric car batteries in northeast England, in a move hailed on July 21 as a bold step towards turning Britain into a global leader in green auto making.
The $330 million move will create 350 jobs in Sunderland, and makes it a contender to build the Japanese car giant's new generation of electric vehicles.
"This product shows that Britain will lead the way in the new, low-carbon jobs of the future," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, visiting the plant where the new jobs were announced on July 20..
"Not only is it a vote of confidence in the skills and talents of the workforce at the Nissan plant in Sunderland, it is good news on jobs for a part of the country which has been hit so savagely by this recession," said Dave Osborne of the Unite labor union.
Environmentalists are keen to see electric cars replace pollution-spewing traditional vehicles -- but cautioned that Britain needs to do much more to promote renewable energy sources, to produce the power for electric vehicles. "Electric cars are only as clean as the energy used to power them, and the UK's renewable energy industry is still underfunded, underdeveloped and lagging way behind the rest of Europe," said Tony Bosworth of Friends of the Earth.
Commentators hailed the move, noting that it comes after Japan's Toyota Motor said last week that it would start making a hybrid version of its Auris hatchback in Britain next year.
"This is good news not just for the North East, but for the whole of the UK, helping to attract foreign investment and securing the UK's place as a global leader in hi-tech manufacturing and automotive industries," said business minister Peter Mandelson, a former EU trade commissioner.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009