Nissan powers up

2 min read

Nissan, acting within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, has announced plans to create hundreds of jobs following a £200m investment to manufacture batteries for electric cars in Sunderland.

The car manufacturer said the five-year investment will see up to 350 direct jobs created and more in the supply chain safeguarded as they work to make the north east a manufacturing hub for the UK’s move towards zero-emission mobility.

Speaking at a visit to Nissan’s Sunderland plant, Gordon Brown said: ‘This investment is significant as we embark on Building Britain's Future, our plan for recovery and beyond powered by low-carbon, high-technology industries, products and services.

‘Sunderland could now be a strong contender to produce electric vehicles for Nissan in Europe, and we will continue to work with Nissan to ensure this happens.’

Brown’s comments follow last week’s report by the Business and Enterprise committee which criticised the government’s lack of action in supporting the UK’s car industry.

Nissan declined to comment on the report, but said that it was hopeful the £200m package would improve the UK’s chances of locating electric vehicle production in Sunderland.

A spokesperson at Nissan’s Sunderland plant told The Engineer Online: ‘Electric vehicle production is certainly something we want to do and the fact we will be producing batteries here is encouraging. But as it stands no decision has been made yet, there are other locations we will have to compete with to secure electric production at Sunderland.'

The Nissan spokesperson added that the government has in principle agreed to a package of grants and loans to support its £200m investment. The government is also supporting Nissan through its Automotive Assistance Programme and plans to open a test track and training centre in the area for low-carbon vehicles.

Business secretary, Peter Mandelson, said: ‘The north east has distinguished itself as the first specialised region for ultra-low-carbon vehicles. This is good news not just for the north east, but for the whole of the UK, helping to attract foreign investment and securing the UK's place as a global leader in high-tech manufacturing and automotive industries.

‘The collaboration between local businesses, universities and colleges will create a hub of expertise to boost innovation and accelerate business growth in this important area of “green” industry.’

In addition to Sunderland, Nissan has identified several possible sites for a battery plant in Portugal and is currently in discussions with the Portuguese government.

The company also intends to identify further plant locations in Europe in anticipation of increased demand for electric vehicles in the coming years.