Nissan launches £1bn EV36Zero initiative

Nissan and partners have launched EV36Zero, a £1bn electric vehicle hub in Sunderland aimed at bringing carbon neutrality to manufacturing and motoring.

EV36Zero
Image: Nissan

Along with partners Envision AESC, a manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for EVs, and Sunderland City Council the new initiative will see the launch of a new Nissan EV, the establishment of a battery gigafactory, and the widespread use of low carbon energy from renewable sources and a 1MW battery storage system using second-life Nissan/Envision AESC batteries.

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In a statement, Nissan Motor Corporation President and CEO 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.

“The experience and know-how gained through the project announced today [July 1, 2021] will be shared globally.”

Nissan will invest up to £423m to produce the new all-electric vehicle, which will be built on the Alliance CMF-EV platform with a forecasted production capacity of up to 100,000 units to be installed.

The Japanese car giant said production in Sunderland will create 909 new jobs at the plant, and over 4,500 in the UK supply chain, while safeguarding a further 75 R&D jobs.

Envision AESC, owner and operator of Europe’s first battery plant in Sunderland, will invest £450m to build a gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), adjacent to the Nissan plant, powered by renewable energy and next-generation battery technology.

“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,” said Lei Zhang, founder and CEO of Envision Group.

The formal planning process is about to begin for the new gigafactory, which Nissan said represents an initial 9GWh plant, with potential future-phase investment of £1.8bn by Envision AESC, generating up to 25GWh and creating 4,500 new jobs in the region by 2030, with potential on site for up to 35GWh. The new plant is expected to increase the cost-competitiveness of EV batteries produced in the UK, including through a new Gen5 battery cell with 30 per cent more energy density.

Dominic Tribe, director and automotive sector specialist at Vendigital, said: “Plans to create the UK’s first ever large-scale lithium battery plant are not only a major milestone for the automotive sector, but also a seal of approval for UK industry. At a time when many local communities are facing financial struggles, the creation of hundreds of jobs will also come as welcome news.

“Nissan’s decision to bring its battery manufacturing capabilities in-house is a neat solution for shoring up its supply chain and is also proof that this approach can make economic sense. EV batteries are large and heavy items, so switching to a shorter, localised supply chain could also help Nissan to reduce its tariff and logistics costs.” 

The new gigafactory will create 750 jobs and safeguard the jobs of 300 current employees.

Bringing this EV36Zero ecosystem together, Sunderland City Council is leading an estimated £80m project that aims to deliver a 100 per cent renewable electricity ‘Microgrid’ that will save 55,000 tonnes of carbon annually.

Commenting on today’s EV36Zero announcement, 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 60GWh of gigafactory capacity in this country by the end of the decade.”