Nissan looks to set up battery gigafactory in UK

Nissan's car manufacturing plant in Sunderland. Photo: Getty Images

Nissan’s car manufacturing plant in Sunderland. Photo: Getty Images

Nissan (7201.T) is talking to the UK government about potentially setting up a battery gigafactory at the site of its Sunderland car manufacturing plant.

The FT reported discussions are at an advanced stage, and quoted sources as saying the factory would support the production of 200,000 battery cars a year, along with thousands of jobs. 

It said the move would make the UK Nissan’s largest electric car production hub outside its home market of Japan.

“Having established electric vehicles 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,” a Nissan spokesperson told Yahoo Finance UK.

“As previously announced, we will continue to electrify our line-up as part of our global journey towards carbon neutrality, however we have no further plans to announce at this time,” they said.

The FT meanwhile also said the new plant would be run by Envision AESC, established in 2007 as a joint venture between Nissan and electronics company NEC to develop and produce high-performance lithium-ion batteries for cars.

The site is expected to open in 2024 and will produce 6 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery capacity per year in its initial phase. This could go up to 18GWh to 20GWh, a giant leap from the 1.9GWh capacity of the current Sunderland plant.

In comparison, Tesla’s (TSLA) gigafactory in Nevada has a capacity of 35GWh.

An announcement about the new plant could come soon, ahead of Britain hosting the COP26 climate summit.

Read more: Nissan to furlough ‘800 UK workers’ amid chip shortage

“Nissan wants significant financial support worth at least tens of millions of pounds from the government for the project, including a route to lower its energy costs for producing the batteries,” the FT said, citing two sources.

A spokesman for the UK government’s business department told the FT “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.”

Earlier this month, Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown, had said: “The UK government has pledged to promote green investment as a key ingredient of the economic recovery with £1bn in funding for renewable energy projects and the creation of a national infrastructure bank to unlock more green finance.”

But she pointed out that the Spring Budget fell short on detail surrounding the UK’s net zero strategy, including its electric vehicle infrastructure plan.

Last month, Nissan said it will furlough around 10% or 800 employees at its UK plant in Sunderland as a global shortage of semiconductor chips slows production.

A Reuters report from last month said Nissan will increase investments in its Sunderland plant to more than £1bn ($1.4bn) in the next few years as it rolls out greener technology.

Watch: Nissan ‘ready’ for 2030 electric car goal 


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