London: Car manufacturer Nissan will invest more than £200 million ($328.6 million) in a new UK plant to build batteries for electric cars after securing financial support from the British government.
The company said it would build plants in the UK and Portugal as part of its plans to manufacture and sell environmentally friendly electric cars. Its investment in Britain will come over five years, and will be supported by grants and loans from the UK taxpayer.
“The two governments (UK and Portugal) have offered to extend financial assistance and other support to ensure that Nissan locates the proposed plants within their respective countries,” the Japanese firm said in a statement.
A Nissan spokeswoman said the details of grants had yet to be finalised, but added that the firm was also in talks with Britain over where to locate the production of electric cars.
An announcement is expected later this year.
Prime minister Gordon Brown said the investment, in a plant near Sunderland, north east England, would create 350 new jobs and safeguard hundreds more in the supply chain.
“Nissan’s investment in a new battery plant ... here in Sunderland is great news for the local economy,” he said in a separate statement, although Nissan axed around 1,200 jobs in the area in January.
Automakers around the world are exploring plans for mass-electric car production as the industry seeks to haul itself out a devastating downturn.
The Nissan news comes less than a week after Toyota said it would produce its first European-built hybrid car in Britain from 2010.
A hybrid car is part-powered by electricity and is more fuel efficient than traditional vehicles.
Nissan is the biggest car manufacturer in the UK by volume, while Toyota is the fourth largest.