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Nissan to prioritise EV Milton Keynes customers

Date: 28 April 2010   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

The Renault-Nissan alliance will prioritise electric vehicle customers in Milton Keynes after an unprecedented deal with its council to encourage uptake of EVs in the region.

The agreement, which sets out a road map for the roll-out of electric vehicles and infrastructure, means there will be priority placed on requests for electric vehicles in the UK from Milton Keynes.

The move demonstrates commitment by both parties to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles in Milton Keynes: the council will support the development of a network of charging posts and the Renault-Nissan alliance will make electric vehicles available for the public to buy. As well as Nissan's Leaf, Renault will be launching four electric vehicles within the next few years.

Milton Keynes Council will facilitate the installation of 430 electric vehicle charging points in public and private locations in the city, plus up to 2000 points in homes. Drivers will receive local incentives to switch to electric vehicles, such as free charging and free parking at city centre posts.

Kunio Nakaguro, senior vice president and head of European R&D at Nissan International SA, said: "We applaud Milton Keynes Council for its foresight in seizing the opportunity to bid for central Government funding to build the electric charging points necessary for electric cars.

"The agreement demonstrates that by working together, local government and EV car manufacturers like the Renault-Nissan alliance can create the right framework for electric vehicles to succeed."

Roland Bouchara, Renault UK's managing director, said: "In partnership with Nissan we are excited to be working with Milton Keynes Council as one of the first to be involved with the Government's Plugged-in-Places programme. The agreement between the Renault-Nissan alliance and Milton Keynes Council presents a great opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of our range of electric vehicles in a realistic environment and is a significant step towards our goal of bringing affordable electric mobility to the mass market."

In a further development, Nissan Leaf owners will be able to charge their cars remotely to reduce "range anxiety" said the carmaker.

The electric vehicle, which is due to go on sale in January 2011 in the UK, will have a telematics system that enables owners to start and stop charging of the Leaf through a mobile phone. More relevant, however, is that it will also be able to send a text when it's topped-up, and switch on the aircon remotely, ensuring battery is not unduly wasted when on the road.

Richard Candler, Nissan manager - electrical design and test department, said one of the main obstacles facing the Leaf take-up was "range anxiety" - where customers are concerned about a journey, knowing the car only does 100 miles on a full charge.

Remote control of charging is one way Nissan hopes to alleviate this.

The system is expected to be included within the price as a trial for a few months and then cost a monthly fee.

Pricing for the Leaf will be released later this month, but the carmaker said it will be in line with a high-trim C-segment combustion-powered car, making it far more affordable than other new-to-market cars such as the Mitsubishi Miev (which will cost £33,699 after Government subsidy reduction of £5000).

UK sales expectations have not been announced but Nissan said it anticipates fleet making up a "substantial" number of volume.

Urban customers will still lead the buying pack followed by "passionate pioneers" - people who feel strongly about the environment and setting an example.

Infrastructure schemes are currently in place in the North East, Milton Keynes and London with a second phase to hit areas including Cornwall and Manchester, so initial sales will be based around these regions.