Nissan plans UK battery plant, lift for post-Brexit carmaking

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Japanese carmaker Nissan on Thursday announced plans to build a battery plant near its factory in northeast England and build a new electric crossover SUV there, boosting the odds that the UK auto industry could survive Brexit and the transition to electric vehicles.

Envision AESC, a Chinese company that already supplies batteries to Nissan at the assembly plant in Sunderland, will invest 450 million pounds, or $ 620 million, in a new so-called gigafactory to supply electric cars manufactured at the site. . It has been part of a partnership between the two companies since Nissan sold AESC to Envision in 2019.

Domestic battery production is crucial for the future of the UK automotive industry. Under the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union, cars made with imported batteries will be subject to punitive tariffs when exported to the mainland.

The tariffs will go into effect in 2027, just three years before Britain begins to ban the sale of new cars that run only on gasoline or diesel. Nissan’s Sunderland plant exports 70% of its production to the European Union and could not survive without access to this market.

Nissan’s pledge to invest up to £ 423million to build a new, as yet unnamed, electric car in Sunderland also bodes well for the plant, Britain’s largest auto plant. The plant currently produces the Qashqai subcompact crossover, the Juke compact SUV and the electric Leaf.

“These new models will build on our long tradition of supplying European customers and global markets from the UK,” said Ashwani Gupta, Nissan COO, at an event in factory.

Manufacturing the new vehicle will require 900 new jobs at the Sunderland plant, Nissan said, while the Envision AESC battery plant will create 750 jobs.

Overall, Nissan said the projects represented a £ 1 billion investment in the plant. They also receive government support, although the amount is not immediately clear. Sunderland’s local government will spend £ 80million on a micro-grid to supply factories with wind and solar power.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the announcements “a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come”.

After Britain voted to exit the European Union and end frictionless trade, the future of its auto industry became uncertain just as manufacturers revamped production around electric vehicles. Honda is due to close its Swindon plant next month and the site has already been sold to a logistics company. the comes out of a Vauxhall factory in the North West of England depends on government support, Vauxhall parent company Stellantis said earlier this year.

Nissan’s future in Britain has been a continuous test of claims by Brexit supporters that leaving the European Union will not cause companies to flee. Since the Brexit referendum in 2016, Nissan’s investment commitments to Britain have faltered but have been honored by generous government guarantees to support the expansion of the Sunderland plant, which opened in 1986.

Nissan opposed Brexit, warning that the uncertainty it would cause could discourage future investments. In 2019, the company abandoned its plan to build a new conventionally-powered SUV in Sunderland and concentrated production of the vehicle in Japan. But the government’s commitments to the company and the new trade deal with the European Union have encouraged Nissan to expand the plant’s operations, protecting jobs in a city that voted overwhelmingly in favor of Brexit.

the Society of Engine Manufacturers and Traders said this week that Britain must rapidly ramp up battery production and add at least 2.3 million charging points by 2030 if it is to prevent the industry from falling into “precipitous decline”.

Late last year Mr Johnson said the government spend almost £ 500million more than four years on battery production.


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