Electric investment: Thousands of jobs for region with Nissan's £1bn 'gigafactory'

Nissan has announced it is to build a new electric model and 7.5 GW battery plant which will create over 1,500 jobs in Sunderland.

Building on the company's 35 years of manufacturing in the city, the projects announced today (1 July) are set to give a boost to the automotive industry.

  • The 'gigafactory': A new hub for Nissan

The car giant will build a flagship £1 billion electric vehicle hub -  Nissan EV36Zero - which will will supercharge the company’s drive to carbon neutrality and build on efforts to create zero-emission motoring.

The technology will allow production to increase and provide batteries to power up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles a year.

Longer-term, the project modernises and expands Nissan’s electric vehicle production capability in the UK.

How the Gigafactory is set to look. Credit: Nissan

  • "Tremendous news"

Sharon Hodgson, the MP for Washington and Sunderland West, says she has been working with the company and is "thrilled" with the announcement.

Nissan's Sunderland plant. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland has also welcomed the news.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng says, “I am extremely proud that Nissan has not only reaffirmed its belief in Britain, but is doubling down on its long-standing commitment to our country. The cars made in this plant, using batteries made just down the road at the UK’s first at scale gigafactory, will have a huge role to play as we transition away from petrol and diesel cars and kick-start a domestic electric vehicle manufacturing base.”

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders though says it is good news but investment in more gigafactories and charging infrastructure is still needed to make the 2030 target.

The car making giant's existing battery factory in Sunderland making batteries that power the Nissan Leaf model. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The new site is expected to open in the next few years, with investment from the Government.

  • New Nissan model: The Ariya

From this new vehicle production alone, 909 new jobs will be created at the Sunderland plant, and more than 4,500 in the UK supply chain.

The project takes the total capital investment by Nissan into the plant past £5 billion.

The Prime Minister says the announcement of this investment is a "pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution" and will secure Nissan's future in the North East for decades to come.

  • Zero Emission Manufacturing in Sunderland

Bringing this plan 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.

Incorporating 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.

It would also mean a direct connection to renewable energy from the UK grid for supply to Nissan and automotive companies located on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP).

This project is estimated to be an £80 million investment. It also includes plans for a 1MW battery storage system using second-life Nissan/Envision AESC batteries, which will 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, says the council has committed to making the city carbon neutral by 2040, and electrification projects like this are a key part of that vision.

Nissan opened its Sunderland factory in 1986 and it employs 7,000 people. The car maker's UK arm is the country's largest automobile manufacturer.