Batteries for Nissan's electric vehicles will continue to be produced in Sunderland, as part of a further £26.5 million investment in the plant announced today.
The battery manufacturing facility, which was set up at a cost of £420m in 2013, produces batteries for the Nissan Leaf and Nissan e-NV200 van. The latest investment secures the 300 jobs in the firm’s advanced lithium ion battery plant, which is the largest of its type in Europe.
To date, 200,000 Leafs have been sold in Europe, and Nissan Europe’s chairman Paul Willcox said the investment signalled the firm’s intention to stay at the forefront of electric vehicle technology: “Nissan intends to remain EV leader for many years to come, with our UK operations at the heart of our future innovations.”
As part of the investment, Nissan is partnering with academic and technology partners in a £19.4m project to advance battery technology. The UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre is supporting the initiative with a £9.7m grant, and Nissan will work with partners, including the University of Warwick, Newcastle University and Zero Carbon Futures.
Nissan’s commitment to manufacturing its own batteries had previously been questioned, with critics suggesting it should have partnered with established industry leaders to give itself greater flexibility to adapt to changing market trends. However, company boss Carlos Ghosn has long been an advocate of the firm maintaining its own expertise, in addition to working with appropriate partners.