Following Japan and the USA, Britain will be the third country in the world to produce the Nissan Leaf zero emissions car.

In a welcome move for the UK Nissan has decided that the vehicle should be produced in Sunderland, always a favourite location as it had earlier been chosen as the site for the Leaf's battery production.

This has been welcomed by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, who pointed out how key the car industry was to the nation's Research and development, technological innovation and skills.

The wheels of the deal were oiled by a £197.3 million (€220 million) finance package as well as a further £20.7 million grant from the UK government.

The vehicle is a five-seated hatchback that Nissan's Senior Vice President, Andy Palmer, claims has similar performance, space and practicality of any other car in the class. But it does come without the exhaust emissions.

The Leaf is due to go on sale at the end of this year, but the Sunderland made cars will start rolling off the end of the production line in 2013.

This is a purely 100% electric car. It has no petrol tank. You can charge the Leaf at home and the car will send you a text when it is complete. You can also pre-heat/cool the interior by phone instruction before getting in and driving away. Nissan say that, in the USA a full charge will cost less than $3.

Nissan have been working for twenty years on Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery technology with the aim of maximising drive time and minimising charge time. They claim to have halved the size of the battery unit and doubled its power. A full charge is enough, they say, for 100 miles at full torque with room for five passengers.

Of course the Leaf is emission-less at the point of use. But with hundreds of these on the road and then charging overnight, one wonders how many more gas, coal and nuclear power stations we will need churning out emissions at night to re-charge them. As well as how efficient that would be considering the full cycle of use.

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