A fleet of green cars will soon take to Sunderland’s roads as part of a pilot for a sustainable transport hub led by the City Council.

Ten brand new Nissan LEAF vehicles – that will carry the council’s new city branding – will be the first visible sign of the Sunderland City Council’s Mobility Hub project, which aims to promote more sustainable travel in and around the city.

The Sunderland-built Nissan cars – which were purchased from the city’s Evans Halshaw Nissan dealership – will create a zero-emission pool fleet for council business use.

Twenty e-bikes will also be made available to council staff, with the new transport modes set to be available when the local authority relocates to City Hall, which is nearing completion at Riverside Sunderland.

The council has been exploring delivery of a Mobility Hub – a ‘one stop shop’ for travel needs and services – for some time and the purchase of the LEAF vehicles is among its first steps.

Common in Europe, mobility hubs allow people to make use of sustainable modes of travel, often meaning they no longer need a vehicle of their own.

Tying into the council’s aspirations to become a carbon neutral city by 2040, the hope is that – if the pilot is successful – the mobility hub will eventually make pool green cars available to the general public, encouraging people to be more discerning when it comes to their travel choices.

Councillor Claire Rowntree, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We’re determined, as a local authority, to set the bar high when it comes to taking action and that’s why we’re targeting carbon neutrality as an authority by 2030, and as a city by 2040.

“Initiatives like this one, which have proven to be a success elsewhere in Europe, will put us right at the cutting edge in the country in taking proactive steps to minimise our carbon footprint and we’re looking forward to testing the concept with these stunning Nissan cars that we’re very proud were made in Sunderland.

“It’s a fitting start to the Mobility Hub, which we hope will be a successful new asset that – eventually – the whole city will be able to make use of.”

The purchase of the cars coincides with the 10th anniversary of the LEAF being produced in the city, and has been supported through funding from the Getting Building Fund, from the Government via the North East LEP.

The council-led Mobility Hub aims to bring about reduced emissions, increase active travel and promote improved health and wellbeing among the council’s workforce, with a wider ambition to offer sustainable modes of transport to the public as people become increasingly discerning about the impact of their lifestyle and choices on the planet.

It is expected that the hub will be of particular benefit to the 10,000 people who will eventually work from Riverside Sunderland, as well as the 2,500 residents who will live in the area when the site is fully developed.

• Pictured above (left to right): Noel Critchley (Nissan), Cllr Claire Rowntree, Neil Milnthorpe (Evans Halshaw), Cllr Kevin Johnson