Nissan, Chinese partner invest in UK battery plant

Nissan Motor Co bet on Britain to supercharge its European electric future on Thursday, pledging US$1.4 billion with its Chinese partner to build a giant battery plant that will power 100,000 vehicles a year including a new crossover model.

Facing the most profound technological shift in a century, the titans of the auto industry are racing to secure battery supply close to the factories where they will make the new cleaner electric vehicles of the future.

Nissan’s backing for the 9 gigawatt hours (GWh) plant cements its wager on Britain five years after the Brexit vote threatened to block off the rest of the European market.

The 1 billion-pound investment by Nissan, its Chinese partner Envision AESC and local government in northeast England will create 6,200 jobs at the Sunderland plant and in British supply chains.

“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,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“This is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.”

The capacity of the new plant is on a par with one announced by France’s Renault and Envision earlier this week.

Nissan will spend up to 423 million pounds to produce a new-generation all-electric crossover vehicle at the plant where it already produces the LEAF electric vehicle and the Qashqai crossover SUV.

As world powers try to slash carbon emissions by scrapping the fossil-fuel guzzling internal combustion engine, one of the icons of 20th Century capitalism, Britain has pledged to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars from 2030. (Reuters)