Japanese automaker Nissan revealed on Friday its plan to inject £1.12 billion ($1.4 billion) into its British plant located in Sunderland. The investment aims to facilitate the production of electric versions of two popular models, the Qashqai and Juke, providing a welcome boost to the UK's automotive industry. This move is seen as a positive development for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's efforts to attract foreign investment to the country.
Nissan's project, which encompasses electric adaptations of the Qashqai and Juke models, is part of a larger initiative requiring a total investment of up to £2 billion. This sum includes provisions for a third battery plant in the UK and infrastructure projects, with financial assistance from collaborative partners.
Anticipated to garner government support, the project aligns with Nissan's existing production of the electric Leaf model in Sunderland. The site will continue to manufacture this model, with batteries supplied by a small plant located within the facility. In 2021, Nissan had already committed a $1.4 billion investment for the construction of a second 9 gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery plant in Sunderland in partnership with Chinese firm Envision AESC.
The announcement sets the stage for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Global Investment Summit next week, where efforts will be made to rekindle interest from foreign companies. Sunak expressed optimism, stating that making the UK the “best place to do business” is a central element of the country's economic plan.
Nissan's investment is poised to provide support to 7,000 workers in Sunderland and an additional 30,000 individuals within the supply chain. The Japanese automaker has maintained a significant presence in Britain since 1986, and the recent decision to invest further underscores its commitment to the UK as a key hub.
While specific details regarding subsidies or guarantees from the UK government were not disclosed by Nissan, discussions with the government are reportedly ongoing, as stated by Nissan's Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Supply Chain, Alan Johnson.
Prime Minister Sunak is scheduled to host Nissan President and CEO Makoto Uchida at the upcoming investment summit, highlighting the importance of the deal in fostering confidence among foreign investors in the UK market.
Nissan's commitment to electric vehicles aligns with its broader strategy to offer only fully electric cars in Europe by 2030. The automaker has indicated that details regarding the new electric vehicle models and their production timelines will be announced at a later date. This investment comes despite a recent five-year delay to the ban on sales of new petrol cars, as announced by Prime Minister Sunak in September.