Japanese car manufacturer Nissan and battery producer Envision AESC have unveiled plans to develop a £1bn electric vehicle (EV) hub centred around the former’s existing facility in Sunderland, in north-east England. 

The hub, named EV36Zero, has three main components, according to a statement from Nissan released on July 1. 

Advertisement

The company will invest £423m to produce a new-generation all-electric car model in Sunderland. It expects this to create 909 direct jobs (around 6000 people are currently employed at the site) along with 4500 additional jobs in the supply chain, while safeguarding a further 75 jobs in research and development. The new model “will be exported to the European markets traditionally served by Nissan’s Sunderland plant”, the statement reads. 

Envision AESC, a former Nissan subsidiary that has been supporting the company’s electrification push in Sunderland since 2012, will invest another £450m to develop an adjacent gigafactory with initial 9GWh of battery capacity — the country’s largest to date. The new site comes “with potential future-phase investment of £1.8bn by Envision AESC, generating up to 25GWh and creating 4500 new high-value green jobs in the region by 2030”, the statement reads. In its initial phase, it will create 750 jobs and safeguard the jobs of 300 current employees.

At the same time, the Sunderland City Council will lead a project to deliver a 100% renewable electricity microgrid, with an anticipated 132MW of installed solar power capacity, to supply the EV hub and its ecosystem. The project is expected to mobilise another £80m. 

Additional infrastructure projects enabling the creation of the new EV hub takes the total initial investment above £1bn, the statement adds. 

The first of its kind in the UK, prime minister Boris Johnson labelled EV36Zero “a major vote of confidence in the UK and our highly skilled workers in the North East”, in a post on LinkedIn. 

However, with countries across the world trying to develop EV battery capacity to support the switch to electric mobility, the UK has ground to cover if it is to close the gap with other major European automotive producers. 

“The UK has yet to back its ambition with a matching level of investment in battery production incentives, charging networks and affordable clean energy,” SMMT, the British automotive industry association, wrote in a report published on June 29. “Independent analysts predict that by 2025, the UK will have just 12GWh of lithium-ion battery capacity, compared to 164GWh in Germany, 91GWh in the US and 32GWh in France.”