SOUTHAMPTON has been chosen as the launch pad for a £1.6bn scheme that aims to fuel the electric car revolution.

Pivot Power is planning to build the world’s first integrated system of batteries and charging stations, starting with a £25 million energy storage complex beside the M27 at Nursling.

It comes as civic chiefs strive to improve air quality in Southampton, which has been named as one of the most polluted cities in the UK.

Under the proposals Pivot Power will create a national network of electricity storage facilities and charging super-hubs fed by National Grid sub-stations.

The groundbreaking scheme aims to accelerate the take up of low carbon transport.

Experts say global sales of electric vehicles are set to rise from 1.1 million last year to 30 million in 2030 as they become cheaper to make than cars with internal combustion engines.

Test Valley Borough Council has granted permission for Pivot Power’s first battery complex to be built alongside a sub-station at Station Road, Nursling.

A company spokesman said: “The development will put Southampton at the forefront of the smart energy revolution, creating infrastructure that will make it easier for drivers to switch to electric vehicles.”

Pivot Power intends to submit a separate application for a charging station at another site in the area.

Matthew Boulton, the company’s chief operating officer, said: “We want to support councils working to clean up air pollution, promote low-carbon policies and develop a sustainable economy with better services for local people.

“Close collaboration will ensure we build the right infrastructure in the right place to make it easy to switch to electric vehicles.”

Housed in 25 containers, the battery will occupy a 1.6-acre site.

A Southampton City Council spokesman said: “The council is excited by the opportunities technology like this could bring to Southampton and the wider area.

“By harnessing power in facilities like this we are able to explore how it might support investment in sustainable energy and zero emission transport and the positive benefits that will bring to our city.”

But Clean Air Southampton had a mixed reaction to the scheme.

A spokesman said: “While we welcome the provision of more charging points for electric vehicles there are air quality issues that won’t be solved by electric vehicles.

“They don’t emit nitrogen dioxide but they still put particulate matter into the air.”