Nissan locks in three new electric cars for expanded UK factory

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Nissan has announced it’s investing up to £3 billion (A$5.74bn) to build electric versions of the Qashqai and Juke plus a next-generation Leaf at its Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom.

It’s unclear how much the UK government is subsidising this expansion, but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called Nissan’s investment a “massive vote of confidence in the UK’s automotive industry”.

“This venture will no doubt secure Sunderland’s future as the UK’s Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing,” he said.

The UK Government did confirm £15m (A$28.7m) of funding for a £30m (A$57.4m) collaborative project led by Nissan to strengthen R&D at the Nissan Technical Centre in Bedfordshire, “increasing opportunities for securing additional UK R&D investment in future electric models”.

Confirming the addition of two more EVs at Sunderland, Nissan has announced it’s investing £1.12bn (A$2.14bn) into its UK operations and wider supply chain for R&D and manufacturing, following an earlier £423m (A$809m) investment for the first of this trio.

It says the move will enable up to a £3bn (A$5.74bn) investment in the UK.

The Sunderland plant, which currently produces the Leaf as well as the petrol-powered Qashqai and Juke, will shift to 100 per cent electric production, though Nissan didn’t specify the timeframe for this.

Nissan plans to only sell electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe by 2030.

It says the electric Qashqai and Juke will be inspired by the Hyper Urban and Hyper Punk concepts from this year’s Tokyo motor show.

The Leaf replacement will be inspired by the 2021 Chill-Out crossover concept.

“Further information about the three models, including names, specifications and launch dates, will be released at a later time,” the company said, suggesting some or all of them may wear new names.

The Sunderland complex will include three gigafactories for battery production.

All plants will be powered by the EV36Zero Microgrid, with 100 per cent renewable energy including wind and solar farms.

Nissan has 7000 employees in the UK, with 30,000 jobs supported in its supply chain there.

“The EV36Zero project puts our Sunderland plant, Britain’s biggest ever car factory, at the heart of our future vision,” said Nissan president and CEO Makoto Uchida.

“It means our UK team will be designing, engineering and manufacturing the vehicles of the future, driving us towards an all-electric future for Nissan in Europe.”

“With electric versions of our core European models on the way, we are accelerating towards a new era for Nissan, for industry and for our customers.”

The UK is investing in strengthening its manufacturing industry, with Nissan’s Sunderland plant part of a new Investment Zone for North East England.

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