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North East invests £30m in an EV future

27 February, 2009

North-East England is gearing up to become a centre of excellence for an emerging electric vehicle industry. The local development agency, One North East, is planning to spend £30m to promote the technology, including establishing an infrastructure of EV charging points and backing a company that is setting up a factory to produce the world’s first all-electric four-wheel drive luxury vehicles.

The agency hopes that the region will become a leader in EV technology, as it was for heavy engineering in the past. “Electric vehicle development opens up an exciting future for the automotive industry and we are determined that North East England will play a leading role in this development,” says One North East’s chief executive, Alan Clarke.

Oxford-based Liberty Electric Cars plans to start manufacturing the converted, plug-in Range Rovers at a plant in Cramlington later this year. It expects to produce more than 1,000 EVs a year, creating 250 jobs and contributing more than £120m a year to the local economy. The electric Range Rovers, which are expected to cost around £125,000 each, will have a 320km range and will be capable of speeds above 160km/h.

“The Liberty Electric Range Rover takes electric vehicle technology into a new sector – to large luxury cars that people aspire to drive, particularly in cities and urban environments where environmental controls are becoming increasingly tighter,” says Barry Shrier, Liberty’s founder and CEO (left, above, with the company’s chairman, Ian Hobday). The company plans to incorporate its electric drivetrain technology into other prestige vehicles.

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