Japanese carmaker reportedly wants millions in government support for new 6GWh plant at existing site
Last modified on Wed 26 May 2021 10.45 EDT
Nissan is reportedly in talks to build a new electric car battery “gigafactory” in Sunderland that could produce up to 200,000 batteries a year.
The Japanese carmaker is understood to be asking the UK government to provide tens of millions of pounds to support the construction of the factory at Nissan’s existing Sunderland site, which would be run by the company’s Chinese battery maker Envision AESC.
It is slated to open in 2024 and would produce 6 gigawatt hours of battery capacity a year, far more than Nissan’s existing Sunderland plant, which has a capacity of 1.9GWh. It will still be dwarfed by Tesla’s 35GWh gigafactory in Nevada in the US.
Nissan had previously warned that a Brexit trade deal that involved tariffs and border checks would jeopardise the future of the Sunderland plant, which employs 6,000 people.
The details of the proposed factory were first reported by the Financial Times on Wednesday.
Nissan said: “Having established EV [electric vehicle] and battery production in the UK in 2013 for the Nissan Leaf, our Sunderland plant has played a pioneering role in developing the electric vehicle market.
“As previously announced, we will continue to electrify our lineup as part of our global journey towards carbon neutrality. However, we have no further plans to announce at this time.”
Nissan did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The FT speculated that an announcement about the new factory could come in advance of the UK hosting the Cop26 climate summit later this year.
A spokesman for the department for business said: “We are dedicated to securing gigafactories and continue to work closely with investors and vehicle manufacturers to progress plans to mass produce batteries in the UK.”
Nissa already makes batteries for its electric Leaf model at an Envision-run factory nextdoor to its Sunderland production line. The Leaf is the best selling electric car in Europe.
This week, Ofgem, the energy regulator, announced plans to add 300,000 new electric car charging stations to locations in the UK including 35 motorways to make driving greener. The £300m investment will triple the current network.
The investment forms part of an estimated £40bn investment plan to bolster the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure.
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