The race to develop the UK’s first ‘gigafactory’ looks set to have a new contender with reports today that Nissan is currently in advanced talks to develop a new facility capable of producing 200,000 electric vehicle batteries a year at its Sunderland manufacturing site.
The Japanese carmaker is reportedly in talks with the UK government with a view to having the new facility up and running in 2024, and is expected to make announcement on the outcome of the discussions in the coming months, according to the Financial Times.
Nissan’s Sunderland car factory is the largest in the UK, and the company’s top selling LEAF electric cars are manufactured at the site. The company recently set out plans to expand its existing 1.9GWh battery factory at the site, which is run through a partnership with energy and engineering giant Envision.
However, plans for the new gigafactory currently being discussed – also to be run by Envision – are reportedly aimed at offering production capacity of 20GWh, which would significantly expand on existing battery production capability at the Sunderland site, according to the newspaper.
It is also envisaged the gigafactory would create thousands of jobs, according to several sources which spoke to the newspaper.
Pressure to ramp up the UK’s battery manufacturing capacity in order to meet expected soaring demand for EVs over the coming decade has been increasing over the past year, in part due to trade challenges posed by Brexit, but also the government’s target announced last year to phase out fossil fuel car sales from 2030.
A growing number of ventures have emerged in recent years aimed at developing the UK’s first major gigafactory, including £2.6bn plans announced by Britishvolt to build a factory in Blyth, Wales, which it hopes to open in 2023.
Nissan declined to comment on the reports, but in a statement said it would “continue to electrify” its roster of vehicles on offer as part of its drive to become a net zero emissions company by 2050, with an interim goal for 100 per cent of its new vehicle offerings to be electrified in key markets by the early 2030s.
“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,” Nissan said in a statement. “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.”
Earlier this month, Nissan’s Sunderland factory secured a major £80m boost from UK investor Phoenix Group in the form of a five-year loan to support EV manufacturing at the site.