Renault-Nissan, Northern Ireland Team Up for Electric Vehicles


Renault's lineup of electric vehicles

Electric cars will soon be zipping around the streets of Northern Ireland, plugging in at charging stations installed with help from the United Kingdom. That’s the vision, at least, of a partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and the government of Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. Today the French-Japanese auto duo announced that it has signed an agreement with Northern Ireland’s Department for Regional Development and the Department of Environment, two agencies that plan to request funding on Friday under the UK’s Plugged-in Places program.

Run by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles in London, the Plugged-in Places program is designed to provide funding for electric vehicle infrastructure in three to six cities in the UK. The Renault-Nissan Alliance, which aims to dominate the global market for electric cars, is the latest partner signing onto Northern Ireland’s bid for funding under the £30 million initiative. If the request wins approval, work on the project is slated to begin in April 2011, and Northern Ireland’s partners in the application are expected to invest matching funds.

Under today’s agreement, Renault-Nissan, the Department for Regional Development, and the Department of Environment plan to create joint working teams to draft plans for electric vehicle infrastructure in Northern Ireland. Renault-Nissan’s role will involve sharing “information and ideas relating to charging networks, energy supply and electric vehicle training,” as well as promoting use and development of electric cars. The two government agencies, meanwhile, have agreed to “consider incentives to make electric vehicles easier for customers to buy and run.”

Renault UK’s Managing Director, Thierry Sybord, commented in a statement that today’s agreement “provides a unique opportunity to explore cross-border collaboration” with the independent Republic of Ireland, which has set a target of having 10 percent of all cars in the country running on electricity by 2020. Sybord added that today’s agreement will also allow the partners to look at ways to gain “access to their 1,500 charging points in the South.”

Renault-Nissan has been involved in the infrastructure buildout in the Republic of Ireland, too. Back in April 2009, the alliance teamed up with ESB, the electricity provider in which the Irish government holds a partial stake, to study and develop an electric car network. A year later, ESB, Renault-Nissan and Ireland finalized an agreement in which the utility pledged to install 3,500 charge points and 30 “fast charge points” by the end of 2011 in cities including Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick. Renault-Nissan agreed to provide 100 pre-production models of its Fluence Z.E. for a pilot project before launching sales in 2012, and set a goal of selling at least 2,000 electric vehicles in Ireland by 2011, including the Nissan LEAF sedan and the Renault Kangoo Z.E.

Image courtesy of Renault.

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