Nissan, the renowned Japanese automaker, has announced a substantial investment in its British plant, marking a significant boost for the UK's auto industry and a beacon of hope for the nation's economic landscape. The company plans to invest 1.12 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) into producing electric versions of two popular models, the Qashqai and Juke, at its Sunderland facility in northeast England.
This investment is part of a broader strategy involving a total expenditure of up to £2 billion ($2.5 billion), which includes the development of a third battery plant in Britain and various infrastructure projects, with financial contributions from its partners.
The move comes at a crucial time for the UK, particularly for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is eagerly seeking to attract foreign investment. The project is also expected to receive backing from the UK government, reflecting a joint effort between the public and private sectors to advance the country’s automotive technology.
Nissan's Commitment to Electric Vehicles
Nissan has been a pioneer in electric vehicle production in the UK, with its electric Leaf model being manufactured in Sunderland for several years. The batteries for the Leaf are supplied by a smaller plant located on the same site.
In 2021, Nissan furthered its commitment to electric vehicles with a $1.4 billion investment to establish a second, 9 gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery plant in Sunderland, in collaboration with its Chinese partner Envision AESC.
This latest announcement is timely, arriving just days before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Global Investment Summit. The summit represents an opportunity for Sunak to rekindle interest among international companies, which has waned since the Brexit vote in 2016.
“Making the UK the best place to do business is at the heart of our economic plan,” Sunak stated on Friday, underscoring his administration's commitment to revitalizing the UK's economic landscape. While Nissan has not disclosed the specifics of any subsidies or guarantees provided by Britain, the importance of government support is not understated.
Nissan’s senior vice president for manufacturing and supply chain, Alan Johnson, acknowledged this in a BBC radio interview, noting that discussions with the government are ongoing. Sunak is set to host Nissan President and Chief Executive Makoto Uchida at the summit next week, further solidifying the relationship between the UK government and one of the world's leading automakers.