North East England – the place to be for EV

How the North East is leading the charge when it comes to electric vehicles.

By on March 27, 2012 12:07 PM

North East England has a proud and rich industrial heritage, particularly in the fields of electricity and transport. 

Northumberland-born engineer George Stephenson is often referred to as the “Father of the Railway” thanks to his steam locomotive designs and for opening the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 – the first-ever public railway line to use steam engines.

In the 1870s, Joseph Swan, a Gateshead physicist and chemist, invented the first electric light bulb – Swan’s lightbulbs illuminated Sir Willliam Armstrong’s house, the first in the world to be wired for domestic lighting. And in the late 1800s Charles Parsons, who lived and worked in the North East, invented the steam turbine technology still used today in most of the world’s power stations.

So it should come as no surprise that the North East is now at the forefront of the low carbon vehicle industry and has already established an international reputation for electric vehicle development, in particular. The region is a mecca for manufacturing and battery development, research and development, skills and training as well as being home to a leading supply chain. The region brings together businesses, colleges and universities to generate ideas, which will help create the technology of the future.

Home of the Nissan LEAF

One of the highlights for the North East in the coming years will be when Nissan’s Sunderland Plant begins manufacture of the ground-breaking pure-electric Nissan LEAF in 2013. This is particularly good news for the UK and wider Europe, not least because buyers can expect significant cost savings from local production.

And even before LEAF begins rolling off the production line, electric vehicle batteries will be assembled in Sunderland at Nissan’s new battery plant from later in 2012.

Developing skills at Gateshead College

Gateshead College is busy training up the Low Carbon Vehicle brains of tomorrow, putting it right at the forefront of future transport technology. The College has a comprehensive offering including:

1. The Skills Academy for Automotive has top-of-the-range equipment including state-of-the-art driving simulators, MOT testing equipment, a rolling road, specialist diagnostic equipment, spray booths and a dedicated welding workshop.

2. The purpose-built AutoSkills Centre provides a comprehensive range of professional and accredited automotive training courses including EV hazard management, service and repair.

3. The Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing and Innovation (SASMI) is a world-class centre to train workers for the green industry in the North East. The Academy is the first of its kind in the UK – unique in its focus on battery manufacturing, testing and safety.

4. The Performance Track and workshop is a dedicated testing and research environment.

Through such dedicated and focussed courses, the North East has forged a reputation as the place to come to study in this sector, with a range of academic and research opportunities ranging from NVQ level up to PHD.

Charging network

The most comprehensive electric vehicle charging point infrastructure in the UK is being set up in the North East, with more than 1,000 points in place by 2013.

Find out more about this exciting development in section two – The Charge your Car network

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