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Nissan to invest in UK, Portugal battery plants

Car manufacturer Nissan said it will invest almost $700 million in two plants to make batteries for electric cars in Britain and Portugal after securing financial support from their governments.

Automakers around the world are exploring plans for mass electric car production as the industry seeks to haul itself out a devastating downturn. The Nissan news comes less than a week after Toyota said it would produce its first European-built hybrid car in Britain from 2010. A hybrid car is part-powered by electricity and is more fuel efficient than traditional vehicles. In Britain, Nissan will invest more than 200 million pounds ($328.6 million) in the plant near Sunderland, north east England

. Nissan will also build a similar plant in Portugal as part of its plan to manufacture and sell environmentally friendly electric cars. The location for the €250 million ($354 million) plant, which should create 200 jobs, is yet to be chosen. Each plant would produce 60,000 batteries a year. Nissan's investment in Britain will come over five years, and will be supported by grants and loans from the UK taxpayer.