Nissan to lead £2bn investment in UK electric car plant
Nissan and its partners have announced a £2bn plan to build three electric car models at its Sunderland factory, El.kz cites BBC.
The Japanese firm will build electric Qashqai and Juke models at the plant alongside the next generation of the electric Leaf, which is already produced there. The scheme could help preserve the jobs of about 6,000 workers directly, and thousands more across the UK.
Nissan said that alongside this, a major new battery plant known as a "gigafactory" will also be needed.
This is in addition to the current factory adjacent to the car plant, and a further gigafactory already being built by its partner, AESC.
Nissan will spend £1.12bn on preparing its UK facilities and supply chain for the new models and training its workforce.
Alongside the gigafactory the total new investment will be up to £2bn, according to the company.
Lei Zhang, chairman of AESC, said the firm had launched a feasibility study on expanding its gigafactory operations in Sunderland. The plan is expected to receive government support, though it is not clear what form that will take. Nissan has confirmed it will receive £15m in funding for its research centre in Bedfordshire.
The Unite union said the plan "secures the long-term future of the site and the thousands of skilled well-paid jobs it supports", but called for more government support for the car industry.
Earlier this year, Nissan's chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta, who has since left the firm, said that the UK would struggle to remain competitive with other car-making countries because of higher manufacturing costs, elevated by energy bills and inflation.
Alan Johnson, Nissan's senior vice president of manufacturing and supply chain, told the BBC's Today programme that the UK "can be a competitive place for car production, but everything needs to be right".
"Not just the plant itself, but the surrounding environment: energy costs, infrastructure, local government [and] national government support, needs to be right for it to work," he said.
The UK government has provided support for Nissan through the Automotive Transformation Fund, which received a £2bn top-up in the Autumn Statement on Wednesday.
Mr Johnson declined to comment on how much funding the company has received from UK taxpayers.
He said: "The support we have received in the past has been excellent and we're very grateful for the support we do receive.
"The truth is discussions are ongoing with the government, not concluded, and therefore I'm not in a position at the moment to make any announcement or any comment about any numbers."
The government's contribution to Nissan's project is understood to be about £100m, and if the gigafactory goes ahead, the funding for that will also be about £100m.
Nissan's announcement comes as an "investment zone" for North East England was confirmed by the government. The government said it will create more than 4,000 jobs over five years.