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Nissan to create thousands of UK jobs in battery investment

Nissan is to announce a major expansion of battery production in Sunderland creating thousands of new jobs both directly and in the supply chain.

The firm, which already makes the Leaf electric car in Sunderland, may also announce the launch of a brand new electric model.

The government is contributing to the overall cost of the project, which is expected to cost hundreds of millions.

The size of the government contribution has not been disclosed.

As a person familiar with the deal put it, the government announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, so it was prepared to support the transition.

It is hoped the new plant will be producing batteries in time for 2024 when the level of UK-made components in UK-made cars is required to start increasing in line with the terms of the UK’s trade deal with the European Union – where most of Nissan’s Sunderland-assembled cars are sold.

Industry sources expect the scale and size of the new facility may closely match that of a new facility in Douai, France recently announce by Renault – which is a major shareholder in Nissan and a partner in a global manufacturing alliance.

The government is also in talks with Vauxhall to secure production of electric vehicles at its Ellesmere Port plant. The BBC understands those talks are “going positively” and an announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

‘Tiny fraction’

The market for electric cars is expanding rapidly.

But earlier this month, influential green group Transport and Environment (T&E) said the UK risked being left behind in the race to build electric cars.

The Brussels-based campaign group said that as recently as 2018, the UK produced roughly half of all electric cars built in Europe.

But it claimed a lack of investment by UK manufacturers meant that by the end of the decade that figure could fall to just 4%.

T&E also said Nissan’s expansion plans for Sunderland – which would reportedly see the plant having a capacity of 6.5 Gigawatt hours (GWh) – amounted to “a tiny fraction of the 474GWh of production at 17 sites across Europe for which funding has already been secured”.

By Simon Jack
Business editor, BBC