A plant in Sunderland is to make more than 2,000 electric cars for Uber ahead of new car-sharing programmes in London and Bristol.

Nissan will build a new version of its LEAF electric car for Uber as the ride-hailing service continues to build partnerships with new car manufacturers.

Diesel and petrol cars in the UK are suffering from declining sales following the introduction of restrictions on pollution, leading to a drive to promote more electric cars.

Nissan’s factory at Sunderland is Britain’s largest car plant by volume producing over 4,000 cars a year.

The move will also have a knock-on effect as it means another Sunderland factory in the production of aluminium wheels.

The carmaker said production of the new vehicle would begin during the summer of 2020 and be completed in the first quarter of 2021. It follows a successful partnership between Uber and Nissan last year which saw the ride-hailing firm order 3,000 of the vehicles.

The deal is likely to appease a group of drivers, predominantly women, who took to social media in recent weeks to complain that they had been dropped off in the wrong areas and forced to pay more money for their trips. They also claimed they had not received compensation for journeys lasting longer than 15 minutes.

Nicci Gerrard, director of UK sales for Nissan, said: “This agreement will enable Uber to build its network of driver-partners whilst providing an economic lifeline for thousands of UK motorists.”

Uber is set to open service in a 10 square mile area in northern Bristol and is also pursuing a tie-up with London, which had previously rejected Uber for allowing its drivers to work illegally. Uber is also one of the brands being considered by taxi app Ola, part of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries group.

Nissan said its engineers had worked together with Uber and Ola’s teams to tailor the vehicles in order to achieve best-in-class service. The partnership aims to provide safe, reliable and affordable rides at scale.