Nissan announces plans to build UK electric vehicle battery ‘gigafactory’

Nissan announced plans on Thursday to build a £ 1bn ($ 1.38bn) “gigafactory” in Sunderland, UK, in a major boost to the country’s electric vehicle plans.

The Japanese automaker said it was launching the project, dubbed Nissan EV36Zero, together with Envision AESC, a battery technology company, and the Sunderland City Council.

Nissan, which has been manufacturing in Sunderland for 35 years, said 1,650 new jobs would be created at the center: 900 at Nissan and 750 at Envision AESC.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Thursday, Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta said the move demonstrated “our roadmap to … carbon neutrality.”

So-called gigafactories, a term coined by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, are facilities that produce batteries for electric vehicles on a large scale.

Nissan joins several other major automotive companies trying to focus on developing batteries for electric cars.

Earlier this week, French automaker Renault announced that it had signed “two major partnerships” related to the design and production of batteries for electric vehicles.

In March, Volkswagen of Germany announced that it was aiming to establish several gigafactories in Europe by the end of the decade.

Chip shortage

While his discussion with CNBC centered on Thursday’s announcement, the global chip shortage is a reminder that the auto sector, like many others, still faces some headwinds.

Gupta acknowledged that the semiconductor situation had been a “challenge, not just for Nissan but for all automakers.”

“But let me say that, after the pandemic, this is [the] new normal, because we plan our supply chain based on predictable scenarios, and this is [an] unpredictable scenario “.

Nissan had started working on its digital supply chain system, he added, and on how to improve its forecast for better planning.

However, Gupta was optimistic about his company’s future prospects. “We are launching our new products as planned – we said we would launch 12 products in 18 months and we are doing so,” he said.

He added: “So even though we are doing a little production adjustment… on the other hand, it is a good problem to solve, which is: not how to sell the car, but rather how to make the car. So we have a good problem to solve, and we are solving it and we will solve it. “

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