Nissan 'in talks with Government over new Sunderland battery plant'

Nissan has refused to comment on claims it is set to build a massive new battery plant at its Sunderland site.

The Financial Times reported today, Wednesday, May 26, that the Japanese car giant is in talks with the UK Government over the scheme.

The paper says three people who have been briefed on the plans have confirmed that talks began after the UK secured a Brexit deal with the EU and an announcement could be made in time for the UK hosting the COP 26 climate conference in the summer.

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The paper says Nissan is looking for significant financial support for a move which would be critical to the long-term future of the Sunderland plant.

The new factory would be operated by Nissan’s Chinese battery supplier Envision, which already runs a manufacturing facility in Sunderland.

A Nissan spokesman said: “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.

"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.”

An Envision AESC statement said: “Envision AESC can confirm that following acquisition of the UK’s only battery plant in 2019 we have been supplying batteries to Nissan’s Sunderland plant to produce the Nissan Leaf.

"We have no further plans or comments to make at this time.”

Nissan confirmed in January that Envision would begin producing the 62kw/h batteries required for the new long-range version of the Leaf this year.

All other components of the models manufactured at Sunderland were already covered by the agreement on rules of origin.

The move would mean all products, including the Qashqai e-Power, made in Sunderland, will qualify for the rules of origin.

Asked if the decision marked a long-term commitment by Nissan to the Sunderland plant post-Brexit, the company’s global chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta replied: “As far as the current business conditions are kept, we are sustainable – not only Sunderland, but the whole European business case.

“If these business conditions are going to change, obviously we have to evaluate our business once again.”

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