Prime Minister Gordon Brown hopes Nissan will build electric cars at its Sunderland factory, following the announcement that the facility is to make batteries for its electric vehicles.
More than 350 jobs are expected to be created at the factory, which will become Nissan's 'mother site for battery production' in a newly established 'Low-Carbon Economic Area' in the North East.
The Government announced plans last week for Britain's Low-Carbon Future and today Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: 'Nissan's investment in a new battery factory and its hope to start producing electric vehicles here in Sunderland is great news for the local economy, creating up to 350 direct jobs and safeguarding hundreds more in the associated supply chain.
'Sunderland could now be a strong contender to produce electric vehicles for Nissan in Europe, and we will continue to work with the company to ensure this happens.'
Earlier this year, the Government set aside 2.3 billion to support Britain's car industry. The cash will be used to help develop green technologies, so it's expected that Nissan will receive some of this money.
Low-Carbon Economic Area
As part of the Low-Carbon Economic Area, the Government intends to establish a new training centre, specialising in low-carbon automotive technologies; a technology park and an open-access test track for low-carbon vehicles.
UK Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: 'The North East has distinguished itself as the first specialised region for ultra-low-carbon vehicles. 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 high-tech manufacturing and automotive industries.
'The collaboration between local businesses, universities and colleges will create a hub of expertise to boost innovation and accelerate business growth in this important area of "green" industry.'
The Sunderland factory will make lithium-ion batteries for electric cars made by Nissan and its partner Renault. It is planned that the factory could make batteries for up to 60,000 electric cars each year.
Timeline to electric vehicles
Nissan will reveal an all-new electric vehicle later this year, and Renault-Nissan plans to offer its electric 'EV' in the US next year.
Global sales of Nissan's new electric model begin 2011.