Sunderland, U.K. – The Renault-Nissan Alliance has started construction on its first European plant for the production of advanced lithium-ion batteries in Sunderland, U.K.

The £210 million project will be operational in early 2012. It will have an initial annual production capacity of 60,000 units and will supply batteries for both Nissan and Renault electric vehicles.

The Alliance had previously announced that a second battery facility will be located in Cacia, Portugal, and that batteries will be produced at Renault’s plant in France.

Sunderland will also build the all-electric Leaf, starting in 2013, alongside the recently unveiled Juke compact crossover which goes into production in August 2010. Nissan’s Oppama Plant in Japan will be the first plant globally to produce the Leaf, starting later this year, and will support the car’s U.K. sales launch in 2011. The Leaf and advanced lithium-ion batteries will also be produced at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee beginning in late 2012.

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