Japanese company Nissan is pouring £1 billion into a UK-based factory to make a next-generation electric vehicle and its batteries, alongside funding from the UK government.
With Brexit posing a serious challenge to domestic carmakers, Nissan’s commitment was hailed by the government as a sign that UK industry can thrive even outside the EU.
The project has been launched with an initial investment of £1 billion by Nissan and its partners Envision AESC, a global player in battery technology, and Sunderland City Council.
Consisting of three interconnected initiatives, the Nissan EV36Zero brings together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery manufacturing to create what the company describes as “a world’s first EV manufacturing ecosystem”.
The initiative, which will be based at Nissan’s Sunderland plant along with battery company Envision AESC, is expected to create more than 1,600 direct jobs with an additional 4,500 in supply companies.
Although Nissan said it would build an all-electric vehicle in the UK with £423 million of the £1 billion pledged, it declined to give details on when production could begin.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng suggested that the government has given Nissan significant financial support, but declined to give an exact figure. Nissan’s chief executive officer, Makoto Uchida, said:
“This project is part of Nissan’s pioneering efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the lifecycle of our products. Our comprehensive approach includes not only the development and production of EVs, but also the use of on-board batteries for energy storage and reuse for secondary purposes.
” His company has developed concepts for smart city technologies that use vehicle-to-grid technology and battery storage to improve the distribution of low-carbon energy in future cities.
“Today’s announcement stems from lengthy discussions within our teams and will significantly accelerate our efforts in Europe to achieve carbon neutrality,” he added.
“Nissan will continue to leverage its electrification strengths to become a company that continues to deliver value to its customers and society.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Nissan’s announcement to build its next-generation all-electric vehicle in Sunderland, alongside a new Envision-AESC gigafactory, is a great vote of confidence in the UK and our highly skilled workforce in the UK. north. East.
“Building on more than 30 years of history in the area, this is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing the future for decades to come.
Envision AESC already operates a Sunderland-based battery factory that was established in 2012 to localize Nissan Leaf’s battery production.
It hopes the new factory will increase the cost competitiveness of UK-made EV batteries, including through a new Gen5 battery cell with 30 percent more energy density, improving range and efficiency.
A recent survey found that a quarter of UK households said they would buy an electric car or plug-in hybrid in the next five years.
The UK new car market has been faltering since the double blow of both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the April figures showed an 11.5% increase in March, the first growth in more than six months. Ben Nelmes, Head of Policy at New Automotive said:
“To stay ahead of the curve, we need a lot more of this kind of investment in battery manufacturing and charging infrastructure.Despite being a former car manufacturing hotspot, the UK is currently not in the top ten global electric vehicle manufacturer.
“Ministers should be using every tool in the box to encourage more investment in battery production, but UK regulations are currently encouraging carmakers to focus on making petrol and diesel models slightly more efficient, rather than taking the plunge to the production of fully electric cars.
“The government should replace this regime with a California-style scheme that would give investors and manufacturers the security they need to invest in large-scale battery production.
” The total value of the government grants Nissan offered to close the deal is unknown. According to Reuters, Johnson has declined to comment on the details of financial incentives, stating:
“There are ongoing discussions about ways we can support people who are going to bring great green technology to this country; of course they are confidential.”