Nissan’s £2 Billion Investment in UK Electric Car Manufacturing a Boost to the Sector
In a bold move demonstrating confidence in the sector, Japanese auto giant Nissan has announced its plans to invest up to £2 billion in UK electric car manufacturing. This vast investment will see the production of electric versions of two of the company’s best-selling cars, Juke and Qashqai, taking place at its facility in Sunderland, northeast England. The Sunderland plant is Nissan’s largest factory in Europe and this decision aligns with the UK’s net zero plans to phase out fossil fuel vehicles.
The investment will be divided into two parts, with £1.12 billion ($1.4 billion) going towards research and development, as well as manufacturing of the new models. The remaining funds will support infrastructure projects and the supply chain, including the establishment of another electric car battery factory. This substantial financial injection is expected to create and sustain thousands of jobs, benefiting not only Nissan’s 7,000-strong workforce but also an additional 30,000 jobs in the broader supply chain.
Nissan President and CEO Makoto Uchida expressed enthusiasm about the company’s focus on electric vehicles, stating that they are integral to achieving carbon neutrality. The company aims for 98 percent of its European sales to be electric vehicles by 2027, a commitment it stands firmly behind.
This announcement comes at a time when the UK is positioning itself as a key player in the production of electric cars. As companies and governments worldwide pivot away from high-polluting automobiles, the British government has awarded £15 million of funding towards a collaborative R&D project for zero-emission vehicles led by Nissan. The government has applauded Nissan’s investment and views it as a major vote of confidence in the UK’s automotive industry, which already contributes a staggering £71 billion annually to the national economy.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who will attend a formal announcement at the Sunderland site, emphasized the significance of the venture for Sunderland and the entire UK. Sunak believes that this undertaking will secure Sunderland’s future as the country’s Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing, aligning with the government’s vision to make the UK the best place for business.
In his recent budget update, Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt pledged a £4.5 billion investment in strategic sectors, including the auto industry. While the government has delayed the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars until 2035, it is committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Consequently, the pressure is on the predominantly foreign-owned UK car manufacturing sector to transition to producing fully-electric vehicles.
Previously, Nissan had expressed concerns about the future of its Sunderland site in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, with a trade deal in place, the company has reaffirmed its commitment to the UK. Nonetheless, the car industry as a whole has warned about the potential negative impact of a 10% increase in customs duties on electric cars crossing the Channel.
Since the UK’s departure from the European Union and the subsequent free trade agreement, car parts must originate from either Britain or the EU to be exempt from customs duties. This requirement poses a challenge for electric car manufacturers, as their batteries often come from China despite efforts to establish production within the UK.
Nissan’s significant investment in UK electric car manufacturing marks a major milestone in the country’s transition to a cleaner, more sustainable automotive industry. With the support of the government and an unwavering commitment to electric vehicles, Nissan’s decision sends a powerful message about the future of the sector and the potential for growth and innovation in the UK.