Nissan invests US$1.4bil to build two new EV models in Britain

Sunak and Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt attaching a Nissan badge to a car as they visit the car manufacturer's plant in Sunderland on Nov 24. — Reuters

LONDON: Nissan said on Friday it would pump £1.12 billion (RM6.6bil/US$1.4bil) into its British plant to build electric versions of two models, offering a boost to the country's auto industry and a prime minister desperate to attract foreign investment.

The Japanese automaker said its plans for electric versions of the Qashqai and Juke, produced in Sunderland, northeast England, would require a total investment of up to £2 billion (RM11.8bil), including a third battery plant in Britain and infrastructure projects that partners would help to finance.

The project is expected to receive government support.

Nissan has made its electric LEAF model in Sunderland for years and will continue to do so, with batteries supplied by a small plant at the site.

It announced a US$1.4 billion investment in 2021 to build a second, 9 gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery plant in Sunderland with Chinese partner Envision AESC.

The deal fires the starting gun on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Global Investment Summit this week, when he will try to revive interest from overseas companies which, following Brexit in 2016 and political turmoil since, have cooled on Britain.

"Making the UK the best place to do business is at the heart of our economic plan," Sunak said in a statement on Friday.

Nissan did not comment on the value of any subsidies or guarantees being provided by Britain.

"Government support is always important," Nissan's senior vice president manufacturing and supply chain Alan Johnson told BBC radio. "Discussions are ongoing with the government, (and are) not concluded."

Sunak will host Nissan president and chief executive Makoto Uchida at the summit this week.

Key hub

Nissan's investment will help support 7,000 workers in Sunderland and 30,000 people in the supply chain, building on a presence in Britain which dates back to 1986.

For the Japanese company, Britain is a key hub. Its 2021 battery investment was a show of confidence when other foreign investors were avoiding the UK after Brexit triggered years of uncertainty around its trading relationships.

But Sunak, who became prime minister a year ago, is having some success turning that around.

The Nissan deal comes just months after India's Tata Motors said it would invest £4 billion in a UK electric vehicle (EV) battery plant to supply its Jaguar Land Rover factories.

Nissan plans to offer only fully electric cars in Europe by 2030, adding it would announce the names of the new EV models and timings for production launches at a later date.

The automaker's investment in EVs comes despite the five year delay to a ban on sales of new petrol cars which Sunak announced in September.
Autos Nissan