Nissan's electric car deal builds on Britain’s ‘battery ecosystem’ in the North East

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Firms in Nissan's supply chain and apprentices at nearby Gateshead College have welcomed the news of the car manufacturer's announcement that it will build two new lines of electric cars at its Sunderland plant.

The £1.12bn investment from the Japanese company to build new electric Qashqai and Juke models will provide jobs and security to thousands of workers in the North East.

One expert, Dr Colin Herron from Newcastle University, told ITV News Tyne Tees, that this is only the start when it comes to the region's potential for being at the heart of Britain's electric car industry.

He said: "The cars themselves are run on lithium-ion batteries. We can even mine lithium ion here. We can process lithium ions. We can produce the cells, the batteries, the biggest car plant, second-life batteries and even recycling, so the whole battery ecosystem, combined with skills is actually in this region."

Vantec supplies Nissan with just-in-time car parts Credit: ITV News

The Supply Chain

One company that works closely with Nissan is Vantec. The firm operates giant warehouses close to the Nissan plant in Washington and stores vital vehicle parts which are then transferred to the carmaker when needed as part of the 'just-in-time' supply chain.

Martin Kendall has run the company for 37 years and he told ITV News the Nissan announcement vindicates all the hard work his 500 staff have put in over the years, saying it was "fantastic news for the North East".

He said: "We’ve now got the sons and daughters of the people that I started working with now working here. So, a proper career in a job that can give you a fantastic career in this industry. That’s for certain and it’s really exciting times with what’s coming as well, you know, we saw the bluebird all those years ago. I was in Tokyo not long ago looking at the new models Nissan are doing at the mobility show. Wow, what an exciting lineup, you know, and what an exciting time for the North East."

Gateshead College apprentices Credit: ITV News

The Future

At nearby Gateshead College, where apprentices learn how to operate the latest electric car batteries and parts, the students were excited about the future.

One said: "I think it’s really exciting because it’s something new. New to the industry, so we’re the first people to do that."

Another added: "I think it’s good to know that people are still investing up in the north and that there are global companies who are willing to invest over here and give opportunities to people who live here, but yeh I think I’m quite excited about it."

Gateshead College apprentices Credit: ITV News

The Director of Business Development at the college, Ivan Jepson, told ITV News: "We give these students what we call the ‘employment edge’ and that means that they are ready to move into the workforce.

"To work for Nissan and have the opportunity to work for their supply chain, for such a prestigious brand, just gives them that ambition to hopefully move into a sector that is transforming and electric vehicles and the hybrid technology is something that they are now getting used to and working on.

"You can see that the kit we’ve got here, it’s just a fantastic future that I can see for all of our students."

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