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Commitment to UK

Nissan poised to unveil gigafactory in UK

prototype Nissan Qashai

The company may announce new plans for the Qashqai

Nissan is close to finalising plans for a gigafactory at its Sunderland site to make batteries for electric cars in a move that will signal its commitment to the UK.

The government- backed investment will create thousands of jobs and help shake off any fears over the company’s long-term plans to remain in Britain after doubts were raised during the Brexit negotiations.

The Japanese carmaker has been in talks for months to build a plant that would make batteries for as many as 200,000 electric cars a year.

Production of its Qashqai and Juke models at Sunderland will be confirmed this week, according to Sky News. Nissan already makes the Leaf in Sunderland where it has been based since 1986.

The value of the government’s investment has not been disclosed but funds could come from a £500 million battery production fund announced last autumn as part of a “green industrial revolution”.

Japanese media firm Nikkei reported last month that Nissan would partner with China-based battery maker Envision to build new battery plants for electric vehicles at sites in Japan and the UK.

In a statement, a Nissan spokesperson said: “Having established EV and battery production in the UK in 2013 for the Nissan LEAF, our Sunderland plant has played a pioneering role in developing the electric vehicle market.

“As previously announced, we will continue to electrify our line-up as part of our global journey towards carbon neutrality, however we have no further plans to announce at this time.”

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The gigafactory plan follows a move by BritishVolt to be the first company to build a facility at Blyth in nearby Northumberland as carmakers eye a 2030 deadline for the government’s climate-driven ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel models.

The company has bought the site of the former Blyth coal-fired power station and hopes to create up to 3,000 jobs.

AMTE Power, the Thurso-based battery manufacturer, also has plans for a gigafactory and was recently named by the government to lead a key an electric battery project.

The car manufacturing industry is overwhelmingly committed to battery electric production over hydrogen as the hydrogen first has to be produced and is energy intensive. Hydrogen is seen as more viable for hauliers than for short-trip private motorists.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says the UK government needs to set a binding target for building battery factories and install millions more charging points for electric cars.

It says over the next decade this could create up to 40,000 high-skilled jobs.

The SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes, said that without the right backing, UK businesses would become “consumers not producers, spectators not innovators… lead and we succeed, follow and we fail”.



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