Nissan announces plans for £1bn electric vehicles hub in Sunderland

A 9GWh-capacity gigafactory, new generation EV and a renewable energy 'Microgrid' are all planned

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Nissan have unveiled plans for a £1 billion flagship Electric Vehicle (EV) Hub in Sunderland – EV36Zero – to expand its’ EV production capability in the UK, which the manufacturer says will create over 6,000 jobs at Nissan and its suppliers, as the UK continues with its efforts to decarbonise the transport sector.

Centred around the record-breaking plant in Sunderland, Nissan EV36Zero has been launched with an initial £1bn investment by Nissan and its partners Envision AESC, a global player in world-leading battery technology, and Sunderland City Council. Comprised of three interconnected initiatives, Nissan EV36Zero brings together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery production, setting a blueprint for the future of the automotive industry.

Nissan President and Chief Executive Officer, 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.

“Our announcement today comes out of lengthy discussions held within our teams, and will greatly accelerate our efforts in Europe to achieve carbon neutrality. The experience and know-how gained through the project announced today will be shared globally, enhancing Nissan’s global competitiveness.

“Nissan will continue to leverage its strengths in electrification to become a company that continues to provide value to its customers and society.”

New generation EV

As part of the £1 billion announcement, Nissan will invest up to £423 million to produce a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK. Building on the success of the Nissan LEAF, the new EV promises next-generation vehicle styling, efficiency and battery technology, making the switch to electric driving even more accessible.

Designed for global markets, UK production will be exported to the European markets traditionally served by Nissan’s Sunderland plant. The new crossover will be built on the Alliance CMF-EV platform, with a forecasted production capacity of up to 100,000 units to be installed.

Production in Sunderland will create 909 new jobs at the plant, and more than 4,500 in the UK supply chain, while safeguarding a further 75 R&D jobs. The project takes the total capital investment by Nissan into the plant past £5bn, and also includes:

  • R&D at Nissan’s European Technical Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire
  • Support for UK suppliers to transition to electric vehicles
  • Plant competitiveness and environmental improvements
  • Skills development in the Nissan workforce for future technologies

Other production locations have not yet been confirmed. More details about the new vehicle, including pricing and technology, will be released closer to the car’s sales launch.

Next-generation EV batteries

Envision AESC already owns and operates Europe’s first battery plant in Sunderland, established in 2012 for the localisation of Nissan LEAF battery production. The factory’s UK team has nine years’ expertise from supplying batteries to the Nissan LEAF and eNV200, having produced enough cells, modules and packs to power over 180,000 electric vehicles in 44 countries.

Supporting this new model allocation, Envision AESC will invest £450 million to build the UK’s first gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), adjacent to the Nissan plant, powered by renewable energy and pioneering next-generation battery technology.

The formal planning process is about to begin for the new gigafactory, which 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 high-value green jobs in the region by 2030, with potential on site for up to 35GWh. The new plant will increase the cost-competitiveness of batteries produced in the UK for electric vehicles, including through a new Gen5 battery cell with 30% more energy density which improves range and efficiency. This commitment will power Nissan’s new vehicles, supporting the continued localisation of vehicle parts and components with advanced technology. This will make batteries cheaper and EVs more accessible to a growing number of customers in the future.

Renewable energy ‘Microgrid’

Bringing this ecosystem together, Sunderland City Council is leading a project that aims to deliver a 100% renewable electricity ‘Microgrid’ that will save 55,000 tonnes of carbon annually.

With the ability to incorporate the existing Nissan wind and solar farms, initial plans suggest there could be as many as ten solar farms created, with an anticipated 132MW generation, and with a direct connection to renewable energy from the UK grid for supply to Nissan and automotive companies located on the adjacent International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP). 

A first-of-its-kind, this project is estimated to be an £80 million investment and also includes plans for a 1MW battery storage system using second-life Nissan/Envision AESC batteries, which will also allow for excess energy generated during daylight hours to be captured and used at another time, helping to balance demand on the grid. 

Sunderland City Council leader, Councillor Graeme Miller, said:

“Sunderland is an ambitious city, and today’s announcement is game-changing one for us, for the region and for UK Plc, and the culmination of many months of partnership working with Nissan, Envision and UK Government to ensure that we landed this transformational project.

“We’re proud to be acting as a key enabler, working to secure an £80m infrastructure project that could be the first of its kind in the UK, bringing together energy generation, consumption and storage through a dedicated microgrid.

“We have a commitment to making Sunderland as a city carbon neutral by 2040 and electrification is a key part of that vision. Today’s announcement places Sunderland at the centre of electric vehicle production in Europe. It vindicates the unwavering belief this council has in the city’s ability to drive the electric revolution, working in partnership with the private sector and Government to bring nationally significant projects to fruition, creating jobs and prosperity for our people and businesses, and delivering cleaner, greener cars in the process.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured above, visiting the plant) said:

“Nissan’s announcement to build its new-generation all-electric vehicle in Sunderland, alongside a new gigafactory from Envision-AESC, is a major vote of confidence in the UK and our highly-skilled workers in the North East.

“Building on over 30 years of history in the area, this is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.

“Commitments like these exemplify our ability to create hundreds of green jobs and boost British industry, whilst also allowing people to travel in an affordable and sustainable way so we can eliminate our contributions to climate change.”

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