Nissan has announced plans for a new GBP1bn electric vehicle (EV) hub centred at its UK manufacturing facility at Sunderland. A new and larger battery making facility is planned with partner Envision AESC which will supply Nissan electric vehicles built at the plant – to include a new model in addition to the Leaf.
Nissan says the new hub called ‘Nissan EV36Zero’ will supercharge the company’s drive to carbon neutrality and establish a new 360-degree solution for zero-emission motoring.
The transformational project has been launched with an initial £1bn investment by Nissan and its partners Envision AESC, a global player in world-leading battery technology, and Sunderland City Council. Comprised of three interconnected initiatives, Nissan EV36Zero brings together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery production, setting a blueprint for the future of the automotive industry.
Nissan President and Chief Executive Officer, Makoto Uchida said: “This project comes as part of Nissan’s pioneering efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire lifecycle of our products. Our comprehensive approach includes not only the development and production of EVs, but also the use of on-board batteries as energy storage and their reuse for secondary purposes.
“Our announcement today comes out of lengthy discussions held within our teams, and will greatly accelerate our efforts in Europe to achieve carbon neutrality. The experience and know-how gained through the project announced today will be shared globally, enhancing Nissan’s global competitiveness.
“Nissan will continue to leverage its strengths in electrification to become a company that continues to provide value to its customers and society.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Nissan’s announcement to build its new-generation all-electric vehicle in Sunderland, alongside a new gigafactory from Envision-AESC, is a major vote of confidence in the UK and our highly-skilled workers in the North East.
“Building on over 30 years of history in the area, this is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.
“Commitments like these exemplify our ability to create hundreds of green jobs and boost British industry, whilst also allowing people to travel in an affordable and sustainable way so we can eliminate our contributions to climate change.”
Unveiling Nissan EV36Zero at the Sunderland Plant today, Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer, Ashwani Gupta, said: “This is a landmark day for Nissan, our partners, the UK and the automotive industry as a whole. Nissan EV36Zero will transform the idea of what is possible for our industry and set a roadmap for the future for all.
“We reached a new frontier with the Nissan LEAF, the world’s first mass-market all-electric vehicle. Now, with our partners, Nissan will pioneer the next phase of the automotive industry as we accelerate towards full electrification and carbon neutrality.”
The projects announced today represent 6,200 jobs at Nissan and its UK suppliers, including more than 900 new Nissan jobs and 750 new Envision AESC jobs at its new smart, low-carbon battery plant. Longer-term, the transformational project modernises and expands Nissan’s EV production capability in the UK, the company says.
Envision AESC, the battery arm of global green tech company Envision Group, will deploy integrated AIoT smart technology to monitor and optimize energy consumption, manufacturing and maintenance at its new gigafactory, enabling it to rapidly increase production and provide batteries to power up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles a year.
UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This fantastic investment by Nissan and Envision-AESC represents a solemn commitment to the people of Sunderland, bringing further high-skilled jobs and turbocharging our plans to level up the North East. This is a huge step forward in our ambition to put the UK at the front of the global electric vehicle race, and further proof, if any was needed, that the UK remains one of the most competitive locations in the world for automotive manufacturing.
“I am extremely proud that Nissan has not only reaffirmed its belief in Britain, but is doubling down on its long-standing commitment to our country. The cars made in this plant, using batteries made just down the road at the UK’s first at scale gigafactory, will have a huge role to play as we transition away from petrol and diesel cars and kick-start a domestic electric vehicle manufacturing base.”
A new electric crossover
As part of the GBP1bn announcement, Nissan will invest up to GBP423m to produce a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK.
Designed for global markets, UK production will be exported to the European markets traditionally served by Nissan’s Sunderland plant. The new crossover will be built on the Alliance CMF-EV platform, with a forecasted production capacity of up to 100,000 units to be installed.
Nissan says production in Sunderland will create 909 new jobs at the plant, and more than 4,500 in the UK supply chain, while safeguarding a further 75 R&D jobs. The transformational project takes the total capital investment by Nissan into the plant past £5bn, and also includes:
- R&D at Nissan’s European Technical Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire
- Support for UK suppliers to transition to electric vehicles
- Plant competitiveness and environmental improvements
- Skills development in the Nissan workforce for future technologies
Other production locations have not yet been confirmed. More details about the new vehicle, including pricing and technology, will be released closer to the car’s sales launch.
Next gen batteries
Envision AESC already owns and operates Europe’s first battery plant in Sunderland, established in 2012 for the localisation of Nissan LEAF battery production. The factory’s UK team has nine years’ expertise from supplying batteries to the Nissan LEAF and eNV200, having produced enough cells, modules and packs to power over 180,000 electric vehicles in 44 countries, meeting global benchmark levels of quality, performance, safety, reliability and cost.
Supporting this new model allocation, Envision AESC will invest GBP450m to build the UK’s first gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), adjacent to the Nissan plant, powered by renewable energy and pioneering next-generation battery technology.
The formal planning process is about to begin for the new gigafactory, which represents an initial 9GWh plant, with potential future-phase investment of GBP1.8bn by Envision AESC, generating up to 25GWh and creating 4,500 new high-value green jobs in the region by 2030, with potential on site for up to 35GWh. The new plant will increase the cost-competitiveness of EV batteries produced in the UK, including through a new Gen5 battery cell with 30% more energy density which improves range and efficiency. This commitment will power Nissan’s new vehicles, supporting the continued localisation of vehicle parts and components with advanced technology. This will make batteries cheaper and EVs more accessible to a growing number of customers in the future.
The new gigafactory will create 750 jobs and safeguard the jobs of 300 current employees.
Lei Zhang, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Envision Group, said: “Envision Group’s mission is to be the net zero technology partner of choice for global enterprises, governments, and cities. We are therefore delighted to be a part of EV36Zero with Nissan and Sunderland City Council. As part of this, Envision AESC will invest £450m in a new, cutting-edge, low-carbon gigafactory in Sunderland creating 700 new jobs.
“This commitment builds on our long-term partnership with Nissan to achieve our global ambition to make high performance, longer range batteries for EVs affordable and accessible for millions more motorists.
“Growth in demand could bring future investment of up to £1.8bn, additional capacity of 25GWh and 4,500 jobs by 2030. This will put the North East at the heart of a new EV hub in the UK, collaborating on R&D around the whole battery lifecycle, from storage, to second life use, V2G smart charging and closed loop recycling.”
Zero Emission vehicles and Zero Emission Manufacturing
Bringing this ecosystem together, Sunderland City Council is leading a project that aims to deliver a 100% renewable electricity ‘Microgrid’ that will save 55,000 tonnes of carbon annually.
With the ability to incorporate the existing Nissan wind and solar farms, initial plans suggest there could be as many as ten solar farms created, with an anticipated 132MW generation, and with a direct connection to renewable energy from the UK grid for ‘firm’ supply to Nissan and automotive companies located on the adjacent International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP). Plans will continue to be developed in close discussion with potential private sector green investors.
A first-of-its-kind, this project is estimated to be a GBP80m investment and also includes plans for a 1MW battery storage system using second-life Nissan/Envision AESC batteries, which will also allow for excess energy generated during daylight hours to be captured and used at another time, helping to balance demand on the grid. Additional infrastructure projects enabling the creation of the new EV Hub take the total initial investment above £1bn.
Sunderland City Council leader, Councillor Graeme Miller, said: “Sunderland is an ambitious city, and today’s announcement is game-changing one for us, for the region and for UK Plc, and the culmination of many months of partnership working with Nissan, Envision and UK Government to ensure that we landed this transformational project.
“We’re proud to be acting as a key enabler, working to secure an £80m infrastructure project that could be the first of its kind in the UK, bringing together energy generation, consumption and storage through a dedicated microgrid.
“We have a commitment to making Sunderland as a city carbon neutral by 2040 and electrification is a key part of that vision. Today’s announcement places Sunderland at the centre of electric vehicle production in Europe. It vindicates the unwavering belief this council has in the city’s ability to drive the electric revolution, working in partnership with the private sector and Government to bring nationally significant projects to fruition, creating jobs and prosperity for our people and businesses, and delivering cleaner, greener cars in the process.”
Announcement ‘great news’ – SMMT
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”. If we are to build one million electric vehicles by 2030, however, we need more such commitments, with at least 60 GWh of gigafactory capacity in this country by the end of the decade. The future competitiveness of our industry depends on securing these investments but also wider support for manufacturing. We need a Build Back Better Fund to help manufacturing transformation, as well as a plan for charging infrastructure that will assure consumers to make the switch to these vehicles.”