GRR

Nissan to build UK Gigafactory

30th June 2021
Bob Murray

The UK takes a giant electric step forward today with confirmation that a £1 billion deal to build an all-new, all-electric crossover SUV at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland has been given the green light. Crucially the project won’t just be building a new car, but also the batteries to power it.

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Nissan said the announcement represented a landmark moment, while the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said it was a “pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.”

Described as a “world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem” in the north-east of England, where Nissan has made cars since 1986, the complex will include assembly facilities for the new crossover along with a Tesla-style “gigafactory” to produce batteries on a scale not seen before in the UK.

Nissan says that 6,200 jobs will be created in the plant and the supply chain, in addition to the 46,000 jobs the Sunderland plant – the largest in the history of the UK automotive industry – already supports around the country.

Preview sketches show the new crossover to be an athletic-looking SUV in the popular coupe style with a long wheelbase and steeply raked front and rear screens. Nissan says it will offer “next-generation vehicle styling, efficiency and battery technology” and “build on the success of the Leaf”, the battery saloon already made in Sunderland, suggesting it may ultimately replace it in the range.

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It will be built on the Nissan-Renault Alliance CMF-EV platform which is already used by Nissan’s first electric SUV, the soon-to-arrive, Japan-built Ariya. From the sketches, the newcomer looks more city-slicker crossover than the more SUV-like Ariya.

Nissan will be able to make 100,000 of them a year for sale in the UK and export to European markets, with production expected to be under way by 2024 though no date for a launch has been confirmed. The batteries are likely to be exported around the world to power a range of Alliance electric models.

Nissan is joined in the £1bn project, tagged EV36Zero, by long-time battery partner Envision AESC which has been making batteries for the Leaf in Sunderland since 2012. The new gigafactory will be able to turn out “Gen5” batteries 30 per cent more energy dense for better range and, says Envision, at lower cost, bringing down the price of electric vehicles.

With the support of Sunderland City Council and the Government, the new electric car hub will comprise other zero emission initiatives including using renewable energy for car production and storing electricity in “second life” EV car batteries.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng called the project a “fantastic investment”. He said: “This is a huge step forward in our ambition to put the UK at the front of the global electric vehicle race, and further proof, if any was needed, that the UK remains one of the most competitive locations in the world for automotive manufacturing.”

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