PRODUCTION of the new Nissan Leaf has begun at the Japanese manufacturer’s Sunderland plant.
The first examples of the updated version of the best-selling all-electric car have rolled off the production line, meaning that the first European customer deliveries are imminent.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan Europe divisional vice-president for manufacturing, said: “Nissan led the way in introducing electric vehicles to Europe in 2011, and every year since then it’s been clear that more and more customers share our vision for the future of driving.
“We're excited to start production in Sunderland and to bring the new Nissan Leaf to European markets from February.”
The next-generation model brings with it a totally new look to replace the polarising styling of the old model. On the technology front, the electric motor has improved thermal efficiency and an increased output of 148bhp.
Torque has also been bumped up, now measuring 320Nm, while the larger battery capacity means that range is a claimed 235 miles, almost double what it was before.
Other technological updates include the new e-Pedal, which allows the driver to control acceleration and braking through one pedal, and ProPilot semi-autonomous driving features.
Fitzpatrick’s comment about increasing demand for electric vehicles is also reflected in official figures. Data from industry body the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows that the number of alternatively fuelled vehicles sold between January and November 2017 was up 35 per cent compared with the same period in 2016.
However, the market share is still very low at just 4.7 per cent.