Nissan makes a big bet on the UK with an EV battery plant and a new crossover


Sunderland, UK — Nissan Motor bets on UK Thursday to supercharge Europe’s electricity future, promises $ 1.4 billion with Chinese partners, powers 100,000 vehicles annually, including new crossover models Built a huge battery factory to do.

Faced with the most severe technological changes of the century, the auto industry giants are competing to secure battery supplies near factories that manufacture new, cleaner electric vehicles of the future.

Nissan’s support for the 9-kilowatt hour (GWh) plant solidified its bet on Britain five years after Brexit’s vote threatened to block other European markets.

A £ 1 billion ($ 1.4 billion) investment by Nissan, China’s partner Envision AESC, and a municipality in northeast England will create 6,200 jobs in the Sunderland plant and the UK supply chain.

Epoch Times Photo
Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta spoke at a press conference on July 1, 2021 at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom. (PhilNoble / Reuters)

The capacity of the new plant will be comparable to the plant to be built in northern France, announced by Renault and Envision in France earlier this week.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Nissan’s move was “a vote of great confidence in highly skilled workers in Britain and the northeast.”

Nissan will spend up to £ 423 million to produce a new generation of all-electric crossovers at its plant, which already produces LEAF electric vehicles and Qashqai crossover SUVs.

Britain will start new diesel and petrol vehicles from 2030 as the world’s major powers seek to reduce carbon emissions by eliminating fossil fuel-injecting internal combustion engines, one of the symbols of 20th century capitalism. Promised to ban the sale of.

However, it is difficult to use electricity.

The future of electricity

China dominates the production of electric vehicle batteries and the processing of core minerals such as rare earths used to make them, while the United States and Europe are slowly trying to catch up.

Western leaders, including Johnson, are often politically sensitive members and sacrifice hundreds of thousands of car jobs by importing batteries from China rather than manufacturing them domestically. I hate it.

And unless the UK can build both battery production and supply chains, there is a risk of losing its 40-year reputation as an investor-friendly gateway for top companies looking to export to other parts of Europe.

Nissan said it could invest an additional £ 1.8 billion in a battery plant to expand its power generation capacity to a maximum of 25 GWh and create 4,500 new jobs in the region by 2030.

“The Industrial Revolution begins with the Energy Revolution and the Green Industrial Revolution,” Zhang Lei, founder and chief executive officer of the Envision Group, told Reuters.

“We also want to build a domestic supply ecosystem, but we need a critical mass.”

Mr. Zhang said the battery plant would be happy to supply to other major manufacturers and hope that the expansion of capacity would allow it to be exported from the UK, including Europe.

Nissan said the new crossover built in Thunderland on the Alliance CMF-EV platform shared by partners Renault and Mitsubishi will be exported to the European market.

Epoch Times Photo
The Nissan logo will be seen on the car before a press conference at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom on July 1, 2021. (PhilNoble / Reuters)

Brexit

The Japanese capital has used Britain as a gateway to Europe since the early 1980s. At that time, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher persuaded Nissan’s boss to build a factory at an old air force airfield in the northeastern city of Sunderland.

Nissan prospered as British car makers declined. Thatcher personally opened a factory in 1986 and was photographed holding the steering wheel of the Nissan Bluebird.

Japanese investors were worried that Britain’s vote to leave the EU (especially strong in Sunderland) would ruin their bets, but the worst damage to Brexit without a noisy agreement was avoided. It was.

The Brexit trade agreement, which was agreed with the European Union last year, allowed free trade in automobiles, but added a dangerous twist on rules of origin. To sell, at least 40% of the value of the car must be produced in the UK or EU. In the EU.

That requirement will rise from 2027 to 55%. This is an important detail that means that imported batteries, which can account for half the car showroom selling price, will close the European market to UK-based car factories such as Nissan.

Nissan said the British government supported the plan, but did not elaborate on the guarantees and incentives granted. The government declined to comment.

Nissan’s Thunderland plant was one of the first plants in Europe to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles, but the shares of the joint venture were acquired by Envision AESC.

“Today’s announcement is the result of long discussions within the team and will significantly accelerate efforts in Europe to achieve carbon neutrality,” said Makoto Uchida, CEO of Nissan. “.

By Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle

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