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Sunderland 'gigafactory'?

Nissan is expected to announce plans to build a ‘gigafactory’ in Sunderland which would be capable of building 200,000 batteries for electric vehicles every year in the UK.

Although still waiting confirmation, an announcement confirming Sunderland as the site for this gigafactory would be seen as a tremendous boost for the regional economy and for the UK, generating thousands of new jobs. The investment would certainly be welcomed by an automotive sector that has been under considerable pressure as a result of Brexit and the impact of the pandemic.

Working in partnership with Chinese specialist Envision AESC it is believed that Nissan expects the site to open in 2024 and produce 6 gigawatt hours (6Gwh) of battery capacity a year, far more than the 1.9Gwh at its existing Sunderland plant.

The announcement comes as the UK government continues discussions with six manufacturers about building electric car battery plants.

Ford, as well as LG and Samsung, are among the companies that have also had early-stage discussions with the government or local authorities.

So far, only the UK battery firm BritishVolt has said that it will open a gigafactory in the UK, at a converted coal power station in Blyth, Northumberland, but should Nissan confirm its plans it will give the gigfactory industry a much needed push in the UK and show that the automotive industry still has a significant role to play in the broader economy.

However, this announcement could come with a significant price-tag for the UK taxpayer and while it remains unclear whether Nissan has been promised financial backing from the UK government there have been suggestions that it is seeking “millions” in taxpayer backing.

I'm sure there's a gmail account with those details somewhere.

Neil Tyler

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