Nissan planning new electric car battery ‘gigafactory’ for Sunderland – report

Japanese carmaker reportedly wants millions in government support for new 6GWh plant at existing site

Nissan is understood to be asking the UK government to provide tens of millions of pounds to build a new electric car battery “gigafactory” in Sunderland .

The Japanese carmaker hopes to support the construction of a factory, that could produce up to 200,000 batteries a year, at Nissan’s existing Sunderland site. The facility 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 would 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.”

The announcement about the new factory could come before the UK-hosted Cop26 climate summit later this year.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 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.”

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Nissan already makes batteries for its electric Leaf model at an Envision-run factory next door to its Sunderland production line. The Leaf is the bestselling electric car in Europe.

In a statement Envision saidit had no comments to make “at this time”.

It was suggested last week that Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk, was exploring plans to build a gigafactory in Somerset following a flying visit to the UK. However, the company has declined to comment on the speculation.

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.


Rupert Neate

The GuardianTramp

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