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New EV and battery manufacturing heading for the north east of England in £1bn investment

Nissan has announced an investment of £1bn to create an electric vehicle hub in the north east of England. Called EV36Zero, the hub will be a complete EV ecosystem, tooled up to build Nissan’s next-generation EVs and, in collaboration with Envision AESC, producing batteries at a 9GWh Gigafactory.

EV360Zero is a flagship project not just for Nissan, but for the UK’s car manufacturing sector in general in the pursuit of zero-emissions motoring. It will create 6200 new jobs, both directly and in the supply chain, use second-life batteries for energy storage as part of a renewable ‘microgrid’ to power the facilities and, most importantly, facilitate the building of Nissan’s new generation electric crossover as well as 9GWh-worth of batteries.

New-generation crossover

Nissan will be spending £423 million of the total sum on updating its manufacturing facilities to build its next-generation EV. The car itself will be based on the CMF-EV platform which is being used by the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance to underpin their volume electric cars, and the Sunderland plant will have capacity to build 100,000 units per year. These will be exported to Europe as well as being for domestic consumers.

At the plant itself, 909 new jobs will be created. It’s not just the tooling up of the manufacturing getting a boost; the Nissan European Technical Centre in Cranfield will get a boost, securing 75 R&D jobs. Other projects around skills for the workforce as well as supporting UK suppliers in transitioning to the EV supply chain will also benefit with around 4500 additional jobs predicted.

Battery manufacture

Battery independence is something numerous car markets are pursuing and Nissan will be aiding the UK in getting there by upping its production capacity, nine years since it started making LEAF batteries in 2012. This ambition is being supported by Nissan’s long-time battery partner, Envision AESC, which is investing £450 million to build a Gigafactory at the International Advanced Manufacturing Plant adjacent to the Nissan production facility.

It will initially have the capacity to build 9GWh of batteries, though Envision AESC’s ambition is to up-scale this to 25GWh by 2030, with headroom for up to 35GWh. The cells themselves will be more cost effective and, among the cells produced, will include Nissan’s new Gen5 type which is 30 per cent more energy dense than previous cells.

Both the manufacturing plant and Gigafactory will be built on a ‘microgrid’ which will use 100 per cent renewable energy – including wind and solar – saving 55,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. As part of this, 1MW of second-life batteries will be installed to balance the grid, tiding it over when it’s cloudy or there’s a lack of wind.

Reaction

There’s been almost universal praise for Nissan’s commitment to the UK and to supporting a zero-emissions travel future.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Today’s announcement of new investment into battery production in Sunderland is great news for the sector, the region and all those employed locally. It also demonstrates the UK automotive industry’s commitment to net zero and that the transition to these new electrified vehicles can be “made In Britain”.”

Matthew Lumsden, MD of fellow north east-based energy storage company, Connected Energy, said:

“With the announcement of this new battery plant for Nissan in Sunderland we can say with confidence that the north east is now a powerhouse for the green energy revolution.”

Ben Nelmes, Head of Policy at independent automotive research group, New Automotive, said: “Nissan’s new Gigafactory and the 6200 jobs it will create is great news for the UK car industry and the north east.”

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