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Nissan announced on Monday that it will start producing batteries for electric cars at its plant in northern England, where it expects to
hire 350 workers.

The announcement comes five months after the automaker sought 800 voluntary retirements from the plant in Sunderland.

"Sunderland could now be a strong contender to produce electric vehicles for Nissan in Europe, and we will continue to work with Nissan to ensure this happens,'' said Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who visited the plant on Monday.

Nissan also announced plans to manufacture batteries at a plant in Portugal in its alliance with Renault.

The company said governments in both countries had offered financial assistance for the developments.

Britain has allocated 2.3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) to support Britain's car industry, but has yet to advance any funds.

Nissan, Britain's largest automaker by production volume, has 4,200 employees at Sunderland.


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