Nissan plans £1bn electric vehicle hub in Sunderland

Nissan has unveiled a £1 billion flagship Electric Vehicle (EV) Hub called Nissan EV36Zero to create “a world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem” at its Sunderland plant.

Nissan said that building on its 35 years of manufacturing experience in Sunderland, the projects announced on Thursday “represent 6,200 jobs at Nissan and its UK suppliers, including more than 900 new Nissan jobs and 750 new Envision AESC jobs at its new smart, low-carbon battery plant.”

It said that longer-term, the transformational project “modernises and expands” Nissan’s EV production capability in the UK.

“Nissan EV36Zero will supercharge the company’s drive to carbon neutrality and establish a new 360-degree solution for zero-emission motoring,” said Nissan.

“The transformational project has been launched with an initial £1bn investment by Nissan and its partners Envision AESC, a global player in world-leading battery technology, and Sunderland City Council.

“Comprised of three interconnected initiatives, Nissan EV36Zero brings together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery production, setting a blueprint for the future of the automotive industry.”

Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida said: “This project comes as part of Nissan’s pioneering efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire lifecycle of our products.

“Our comprehensive approach includes not only the development and production of EVs, but also the use of on-board batteries as energy storage and their reuse for secondary purposes.

“Our announcement today comes out of lengthy discussions held within our teams, and will greatly accelerate our efforts in Europe to achieve carbon neutrality.

“The experience and know-how gained through the project announced today will be shared globally, enhancing Nissan’s global competitiveness.

“Nissan will continue to leverage its strengths in electrification to become a company that continues to provide value to its customers and society.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Nissan’s announcement to build its new-generation all-electric vehicle in Sunderland, alongside a new gigafactory from Envision-AESC, is a major vote of confidence in the UK and our highly-skilled workers in the North East.

“Building on over 30 years of history in the area, this is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.

“Commitments like these exemplify our ability to create hundreds of green jobs and boost British industry, whilst also allowing people to travel in an affordable and sustainable way so we can eliminate our contributions to climate change.”

Unveiling Nissan EV36Zero at the Sunderland plant, Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta said: “This is a landmark day for Nissan, our partners, the UK and the automotive industry as a whole. Nissan EV36Zero will transform the idea of what is possible for our industry and set a roadmap for the future for all.

“We reached a new frontier with the Nissan LEAF, the world’s first mass-market all-electric vehicle. Now, with our partners, Nissan will pioneer the next phase of the automotive industry as we accelerate towards full electrification and carbon neutrality.”

Envision AESC, the battery arm of global green tech company Envision Group, will deploy integrated AIoT smart technology to monitor and optimize energy consumption, manufacturing and maintenance at its new gigafactory, enabling it to rapidly increase production and provide batteries to power up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles a year.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This fantastic investment by Nissan and Envision-AESC represents a solemn commitment to the people of Sunderland, bringing further high-skilled jobs and turbocharging our plans to level up the North East.

“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.

“I am extremely proud that Nissan has not only reaffirmed its belief in Britain, but is doubling down on its long-standing commitment to our country.

“The cars made in this plant, using batteries made just down the road at the UK’s first at scale gigafactory, will have a huge role to play as we transition away from petrol and diesel cars and kick-start a domestic electric vehicle manufacturing base.”

As part of the £1 billion announcement, Nissan will invest up to £423 million to produce a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK.

Production in Sunderland will create 909 new jobs at the plant, and more than 4,500 in the UK supply chain, while safeguarding a further 75 R&D jobs.

The project takes the total capital investment by Nissan into the plant past £5 billion.

Envision AESC already owns and operates Europe’s first battery plant in Sunderland, established in 2012 for the localisation of Nissan LEAF battery production.

The factory’s UK team has nine years’ expertise from supplying batteries to the Nissan LEAF and eNV200, having produced enough cells, modules and packs to power over 180,000 electric vehicles in 44 countries.

Envision AESC will invest £450 million to build the UK’s first gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), adjacent to the Nissan plant, powered by renewable energy and pioneering next-generation battery technology.

The formal planning process is about to begin for the new gigafactory, which represents an initial 9GWh plant, with potential future-phase investment of £1.8 billion by Envision AESC, generating up to 25GWh and creating 4,500 new high-value green jobs in the region by 2030, with potential on site for up to 35GWh.

The new plant will increase the cost-competitiveness of EV batteries produced in the UK, including through a new Gen5 battery cell with 30% more energy density which improves range and efficiency.

This commitment will power Nissan’s new vehicles, supporting the continued localisation of vehicle parts and components with advanced technology.

This will make batteries cheaper and EVs more accessible to a growing number of customers in the future.

The new gigafactory will create 750 jobs and safeguard the jobs of 300 current employees.

Envision Group CEO Lei Zhang said: “Envision Group’s mission is to be the net zero technology partner of choice for global enterprises, governments, and cities.

“We are therefore delighted to be a part of EV36Zero with Nissan and Sunderland City Council.

“As part of this, Envision AESC will invest £450m in a new, cutting-edge, low-carbon gigafactory in Sunderland creating 700 new jobs. ,

“This commitment builds on our long-term partnership with Nissan to achieve our global ambition to make high performance, longer range batteries for EVs affordable and accessible for millions more motorists.

“Growth in demand could bring future investment of up to £1.8bn, additional capacity of 25GWh and 4,500 jobs by 2030. This will put the North East at the heart of a new EV hub in the UK, collaborating on R&D around the whole battery lifecycle, from storage, to second life use, V2G smart charging and closed loop recycling.”

Bringing this ecosystem together, Sunderland City Council is leading a project that aims to deliver a 100% renewable electricity “Microgrid” that will save 55,000 tonnes of carbon annually.

With the ability to incorporate the existing Nissan wind and solar farms, initial plans suggest there could be as many as 10 solar farms created, with an anticipated 132MW generation, and with a direct connection to renewable energy from the UK grid for “firm” supply to Nissan and automotive companies located on the adjacent International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP).

Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Mille  said: “Sunderland is an ambitious city, and today’s announcement is game-changing one for us, for the region and for UK Plc, and the culmination of many months of partnership working with Nissan, Envision and UK Government to ensure that we landed this transformational project.

“We’re proud to be acting as a key enabler, working to secure an £80m infrastructure project that could be the first of its kind in the UK, bringing together energy generation, consumption and storage through a dedicated microgrid.

“We have a commitment to making Sunderland as a city carbon neutral by 2040 and electrification is a key part of that vision. Today’s announcement places Sunderland at the centre of electric vehicle production in Europe.

“It vindicates the unwavering belief this council has in the city’s ability to drive the electric revolution, working in partnership with the private sector and Government to bring nationally significant projects to fruition, creating jobs and prosperity for our people and businesses, and delivering cleaner, greener cars in the process.”

Nissan started production in Sunderland in July 1986, 35 years ago this month. Since then the plant has grown into the biggest plant in the history of the UK automotive industry, supporting 46,000 UK jobs.

Also based in the UK are Nissan’s European Design Centre in Paddington, London (NDE) and R&D Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire (NTCE), designing and engineering Nissan vehicles for customers across the region and beyond.

Current production in Sunderland includes the Nissan Qashqai, Juke and LEAF, 70% of which are exported to mainland Europe, with 20% sold in the UK and a further 10% exported to markets than span the globe, from South America to Australia, and from the Nordics to South Africa.

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.