Decision to pick BMW as Olympic partner scuppers immediate plan to make Nissan Leafs in UK
1 December 2009

The decision to build Nissan’s radical battery-powered Leaf hatchback in the UK is hanging in the balance after the carmaker failed to win the contract to supply vehicles for the 2012 London Olympics.

Industry sources have told Autocar that an announcement on the production of the Leaf at Nissan's Sunderland plant would almost certainly have followed a successful Olympic bid.

Instead, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) chose BMW as its automotive partner to supply more than 4000 vehicles for the Olympics.

Full story: Nissan's Olympic frustration

Nissan planned to supply more than 2000 Leafs for the games and it hoped its presence would have given a boost to the uptake of electric cars and their acceptance in the UK. The presence of the Leaf would have ensured Nissan's Olympic fleet would have average CO2 emissions of 60g/km, half of the 120g/km requirement set by LOCOG.

Nissan UK’s trump card in trying to secure European Leaf production for Sunderland was the fact that it could promise to have an outlet for at least 2000 units of the car by 2012. After the games, the used Leafs would be passed onto City Hall for use in its own fleet.

“The Olympic decision would have accelerated the Leaf process in the UK,” said our source. “There would be a local urgency for the cars and a client base to satisfy and time pressure to work to.”

Our source said Sunderland remained in the running for Leaf production. However, he said plans to give the immediate go-ahead to Sunderland following a positive Olympics decision have been put on hold as there is no longer the time pressure to deliver the cars on time for the games, or the lure of a local customer base to initially supply the cars to.

Our Verdict

Nissan Leaf

The electric Nissan Leaf has its work cut out competing with cheaper mainstream cars - but it does make a case for itself

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Sunderland faces strong competition for Leaf production from sites across Europe, with Portugal mounting one of the stronger bids as it, like Sunderland, will be producing batteries for the Leaf.

“Sunderland is still very much involved in the Leaf bidding process,” said our source. “Nothing has been decided yet and it will still provide a very strong case, both on a business and economic level.”

The government, in particular business secretary Peter Mandelson, is believed to be keen to see the Leaf being built in the UK, but it had no involvement in the LOCOG’s decision.

Autocar contacted Mandelson's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for a response to the news that LOCOG's decision could have undermined the government's policy on electric cars, but it declined to comment on the story.

The Nissan Leaf is expected to go into production in Japan late next year, with European production following in 2011.

Mark Tisshaw

Hilton Holloway blog: An Olympic-sized scandalBMW joins 2012 OlympicsBlow for London’s electric networkNissan's Olympic bid 'was feasible' Twitter - follow all the latest Nissan reviews, news and video

Join the debate


1 December 2009

More teddy out the cot, kiddy tantrums, now with added "I'm not playing anymore and I'm taking My ball with Me!"

Considering this statement from Nissan: “We have no issue with BMW getting the contract” , they sure are making plenty of fuss about it, bleating on and on every other day.

Still, must be about time for Capslock to come on and spout his "same old-same old" message and then demand that Lord Coe must go!.

1 December 2009

-actually i will say couple of things:

-firstly as clearly stated "Sunderland is still in the running" it also clearly states that a USP (an advantage) to the site has been lost - you cannot run away from that - that is how it is you cannot hide from it.

-4rephill - the thing is you have take all in context, on the one hand you are saying the BM got the contract and that's business and on the other you are saying that one advantage of the UK plant was the olympics re. stimulate local demand is not business and does not count - well it does; you talk about business - hello here is business, its not Nissan "throwing the teddy out" it is simply a USP of the UK plant has been lost.

-on one hand you are saying its business on the other you are saying its not; yet the statement is clear that this is about business from Nissan and with the loss of a USP the UK sites clear advantage over others is now reduced - fact.

-with any decision you get effect and the decision Lord Coe made has a wider context and not just about jobs at the Sunderland plant but right across the country in terms of all the new infrastructure etc - there is a much wider thing going on.

-so yes BM won the contract and i hope all the BM fans that think giving them the contract was the right choice are really happy that they lost the UK the lead in a new emerging area (the infrastructure side), that they have lost the UK jobs (without a doubt), lost the UK new and emerging tech. firms (without a doubt), lost the UK further tech. investment (without doubt) and have really hindered the UK in many ways from college and university courses and graduates through to exports and revenues.

-that is life, you make your choice and you got to live with it; unfortunately for Lord Coe - hundreds of thousands of others also have to live with it - i am glad you learnt the phrase re. Lord Coe as his decision was wrong, plain and simple.

-so enjoying driving your BMWs and each time you turn the key remember all those thousands of people you effected - this is real life after all - happy christmas and broom broom

-see ya'll - and have fun!

1 December 2009

[quote CapsLock]

-so enjoying driving your BMWs and each time you turn the key remember all those thousands of people you effected - this is real life after all - happy christmas and broom broom

 -see ya'll - and have fun!  

[/quote] Well said. All BMW drivers should be thorougly ashamed of themselves for destroying jobs in the UK and making British families & babies go hungry.

I say after we organise a campaign to get rid of Lord Coe, we target these heartless BMW owners. Better still, let's ban sale of BMWs in the UK altogether, and encourage people to buy more Nissans.

1 December 2009

If Nissan's business case for the LEAF was dependent on guaranteeing sales of 4000 vehicles, it suggests that either they should have more confidence in their product, or it's maybe not worth producing it at all.

It sounds to me more like sabre rattling to see what subsidies they can squeeze out of governments than a genuine issue. But good on them for managing to play the game and keep their car in the headlines for a little longer.

1 December 2009

This all smells of more temper tantrums to me! I mean seriously, they were planning on using 2000 LEAFs for the Olympics and now they are saying they will build them somewhere else because they lost these 2000!

Why dont you wake up and smell whats on the spade! How many LEAFs are they planning to build each year? 20,000? 50,000? 100,000? Seriously blaming the olympic car selection for the reason you are moving the entire production line somewhere else is simply an excuse for something they already planned on doing, or as MrTrilby says to get some grant from our government.

1 December 2009

-its just business, NOT temper tantrums

-the Sunderland plant is an excellent plant (we all know that) and one of the advantages it also offered was that its home market were going to take an instant hit of 2000 units.

-i am going to get a Nissan Leaf like many other, but to have advance orders of 2000 products straight off the bat makes a strong case and gave Sunderland an advantage.

-now that 2000 model start has gone then that advantage has gone and when making the decision on which plant to locate the car at you are looking at a more regular set of parameters with no one plant having an extraordinary item i.e. if 2000 were in the UK then the training across the garages has an instant impact nationally and not (for instance) region by region - there are many decisions that need to be taken and some are more and less obvious than others.

-its just standard corporate business stuff - that is all. The Nissan Leaf will sell without doubt and businesses will like the car straight away; for consumers they will also like the car and it will be a big hit.

-the gov. incentive of £5K off per vehicle should also act as an incentive for UK buyers and with a 100 mile range its a fantastic unit; what is 15 mins on 3 phrase for 80% battery life or 30 mins on single phase for 80% - ideal for meetings with a round trip of 160 miles or longer stopping for a 15 min coffee break.

-so i hope the above explains at least some aspects and decisions, i hope that it shows that by having 2000 orders in the bag lots of other wheels start to turn like businesses being able to get money from venture capitalists and banks to set up charging networks etc rigth across the country (all those great jobs and all that investment) - it would have been a great catalyst and meant 1000's literally of jobs and covering all aspects from legal to engineering to patents etc - it would have been wonderful for the UK

-so i hope you can now understand at least some of the benefits and the opportunity that was missed - because it was a massive opportunity missed - it would have even feed into locally produced "green" electric schemes - which would mean more investment and more jobs - and yes all that comes from 2000 advanced orders.

-as said, enjoy your BMWs - every time you turn the key think of all the opportunity lost! it would have directly led to £bn's of private investment coming into the country.

-see ya!! and happy driving! broom broom

1 December 2009


Yet more nonsense from you. No mainstream company makes a decision to build a factory based on 2000 orders. As for wicked BMW, look what damage they are doing to the UK economy:

BMW Group Investment in UK
c. £1 billion since 2000

BMW Group jobs in UK
BMW Group employs c. 8,000 people in the UK motor industry (three main production plants - Oxford, Hams Hall, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, a component supplier - BMW Group Plant Swindon, sales and marketing, (inc. financial services) plus an additional c. 11,000 in its 148 strong UK dealer network.

BMW (UK) Ltd turnover/sales in the UK
BMW UK turnover in 2008 was £3.3 billion. UK Sales in 2008: BMW 113,132, MINI 40,736. UK is the third largest market and the second biggest production base for the BMW Group worldwide, and the only country where BMW Group's three brands - BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars - are represented.

MINI Plant Oxford:

  • Only place in world where MINI is built.
  • £380 million investment 2000-2008.
  • 3,700 employees.
  • 900 new permanent jobs created in first two years of MINI production.
  • 235,019 cars produced in 2008 - production runs six days a week, three crews.
  • 800 cars manufactured each day.
  • 1,500,000th MINI produced in July 2009.
  • 70% of all MINIs produced are exported.
  • MINI on sale in over 70 countries from Chile to China.
  • Third largest car producer in the UK in 2008.

BMW Plant Hams Hall:

  • £400 million engine plant.
  • c. 1000 employees.
  • Centre for all 4 cylinder petrol engine production for BMW Group worldwide.
  • 372,000 engines produced in 2008.
  • Supplier of engines for BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 series, Z4 Roadster and X3 model ranges and supplies engines to MINI Plant Oxford.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, Goodwood

  • £60 million investment.
  • 1000 employees.
  • Only place where Roll-Royce Motor Cars are built.
  • First delivery of Roll-Royce Phantom in 2003.
  • 1,212 Rolls-Royces produced in 2008.
  • 6 UK dealerships.

BMW Group Plant Swindon

  • The main supplier of pressings and sub-assemblies for MINI.
  • Three year, £60 million investment announced in 2004.
  • 1,000 jobs.
  • Part of the BMW Group production network since 2000.

1 December 2009

crashbangwallop - well said that man!

I think one area where Nissan may be right and Capslock can get his fix is that these 2000 "Leafs" (or will they pluralise to leaves?) would have had a greater impact than 2000 leafs later in its product life. These would have been highly visible to the public and olypmic officials (who may have more spending power than joe bloggs). These 2000 cars would basically have been a massive advertisment for Nissan.

The other question is what the other 2000 Nissans would have been. Had they been the Micra or Quashthingy then that too would have been useful for the Sunderland plant - 4000 vehicles in total and not to be sniffed at.

People are also forgetting that with the 2000 leafs Nissan would have been installing electrical infastructure, this may now not be installed. This would have helped push London towards electric cars with the provision of fast charging points etc. Electric cars would be brilliant for London - as no matter what people say about them the range will probably be great enough and there are zero tailpipe emissions. Reducing CO and NOx emissions within the city of London would have a massive environmental and health benefit within the city.

So, all in I'd still prefer it if Nissan had won the contact. However, BMW have invested heavily in the UK, which is sometimes over-shadowed by the input from the Japanese. Strange, as 10 years ago few people credited the Japanese makes with investment in the UK. How things change...

BMW are not the big baddies some people make them out to be. They make decent, mostly very well engineered cars and it's no surprise the olympic committee went for them in a purely business sense (proven products, better deal). However, given that the games are supposed to have the lowest practicable environmental impact as part of the "sustainable olympics" approach if Nissan really were going to provide a fleet with half the CO2 emissions on average than BMW then they are slightly selling out their environmental credentials (if anyone has seen the plans for the olympic park you'll realise just how environmentally friendly everything else has planned to be.)

1 December 2009

-nice information, not the 50K jobs that were mentioned earlier but you are STILL missing the point; i will try once more and hopefully you will start and understand, i do not know if you will not will not.

-firstly i blamed Lord Coe and not BMW; i have said that right from the beginning, right from day one "lord coe must go"

-secondly Nissan are going to place the required tooling in a plant, we know that. They are now looking for WHICH plant that will be at; i will say once more, THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WHICH PLANT THAT WILL BE LOCATED

-thirdly a massive advantage for the UK was the 2000 advanced orders. With ELECTRIC cars you start look at INFRASTRUCTURE i.e. charging points. Now Nissan et al were going to sort much of this in London.

-now imagine being a technology firm in Manchester, of Cardiff or Leeds or Birmingham; and you say you want to raise money to a charging network that will employ many people (collectively it would be something like about 50K people at least over time)

-you need to raise money for the cost of building the network and the people you ask for money will want to see some sort of spread of units - the 2000 units starts that spread - its all about that initial movement.

-thus those firms can go off and raise money, they can get the rigths to the street charge points, start approaching Tesco et al to install solutions in car parks i.e. Start and build the infrastructure

-you then get big firms like Shell, EDF, eon, n-power all starting to want a slice and it starts to gain momentum and build. THAT IS THE POINT - BMW have got those staff as Nissan and Renault and EDF have their staff but this is about MORE jobs, this is about MORE revenue, this is ABOUT investment in the UK (to the tune of what about £1bn? £2bn) - all that NEW money, all those NEW jobs all that NEW development, all those NEW designs and components required - then other firms see orders increasing, the price of the pound means that other firms will locate here (nothing surer) = MORE NEW JOBS

-a minimum of 50K NEW jobs, £bns of NEW investment - all those great futures for all those young people - and YES all from 2000 advanced orders.

-Lord Coe did the UK a harm (nothing surer) - Lord Coe must GO!

-but BMW bought the contract - by buying the contract how many extra people are they going to employ? (10? 100? - they already have people), would they have built an extra plant? NO, is there bid going to create 1000's of NEW jobs and NEW investment NO - is the BM bid going to give lots of young people a chance in life? NO

- so absolutely, when you are next in your BM think of that - i hope now you understand more - next time you turn the key think of all those NEW jobs and INVESTMENT we are NOT going to GET, think of the UK now not getting the Global lead in an sector that we could have exported all over the WORLD

-so yes when you turn the key of your BM think of all that we have not got - happy driving! - broom broom

-see ya

1 December 2009

[quote CapsLock]

-that is life, you make your choice and you got to live with it; unfortunately for Lord Coe - hundreds of thousands of others also have to live with it - i am glad you learnt the phrase re. Lord Coe as his decision was wrong, plain and simple.

-so enjoying driving your BMWs and each time you turn the key remember all those thousands of people you effected - this is real life after all - happy christmas and broom broom


Capslock: First point: I couldn't care less about Lord Coe, which in turn means that I care even less about your one man campaign to rid him from wherever you want him to go from, so please don't try and include Me as one of your followers.I merely quoted your standard (and rather tiresome) saying as it was guaranteed that you would be commenting on this story. I do not endorse your thinking in any way shape or form. I have My own saying: "Lord Coe, the Olympics must go!, Lord Coe, the Olympics must go!". The games are going to cost the taxpayer millions of pounds that will never be recouped!.

(Thankfully we have Dave TV so I can watch endless repeats of Top Gear whilst the games are on!).

Second point: I shall enjoy driving My BMW thank you, and I'm sure all the British people involved at My BMW dealership, along with all the British workers who have business with them, will continue to enjoy their lives with the help of the money that I pay to keep My BMW running correctly.

Third point: If Sunderland is the best choice for building the Leaf (lame name by the way!) then Nissan would build it there regardless of any Olympic decision. The statement they have put out today is purely business blackmail: "Change your decision or we won't build this car in your country!", which is exactly the same as "either play by my rules or I'm going home and taking my ball with me!". Frankly, it's a bit childish and just enhances the image that they're sore lossers.

Fourth point: Electricity supply is already starting to struggle to keep up with demand and the prices keep rising and rising. What will be the effect on this if everybody suddenly has electric cars?, lower prices due to increased demand?, I don't think so. Oh!, hang on though, they'll all be charged up overnight so that's okay then. Well, no, because the first thing that will happen is there will no longer be a cheap rate in the night due to the increased demand so you will pay the same rate regardless of the time of day.

And as for your point implying that BMW have single handidly destroyed the future of this country, especially when it comes to future technologies, is as ridiculous as people trying to claim still that the earth is flat (A member of who's society I'm sure you are).

Still, you've got the Eastenders Christmas episodes coming soon, so there's something to look forward to! (My money is on someone's partner leaving them, someone else starting an affair, Phil and Ian Beale having a fight in the pub, someone getting runover in the square, a house burning down and Sharon Watts (or whatever her name is these days) will make a surprise return to the square!. Happy times!).


Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week