Japanese car manufacturer Nissan [7201:JP] announced its plan to build a GBP1bn (approximately USD1.38bn) gigafactory in Sunderland, the UK, in collaboration with Chinese battery technology company Envision AESC, as reported by CNBC on July 1. This would be the first gigafactory in the UK, estimated to start operating in 2024. Its initial battery production capacity is expected to be 6 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, far exceeding the 1.9Gwh capacity of Nissan’s existing factory in Sunderland. In addition to the original investment of GBP450m, Envision AESC also considered a potential investment of GBP1.8bn and boost the battery production capacity to 25GWh a year. It is expected that the plant would be able to provide batteries to power up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles (EV) every year.
Nissan and Envision AESC have formed a partnership for years. Previously, Envision AESC set up its first European battery plant in Sunderland in 2012 to supply batteries for Nissan. Meanwhile, the plant also provided battery cells for 180,000 cars in 44 countries during the past nine years. Amid the GBP1bn investment this time, apart from Envision AESC’s battery manufacturing, Nissan said it would invest up to GBP423m in producing a new-generation pure EV in the UK, aiming at an annual capacity of 100,000 units for the whole European market. For the UK, which is banning the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, it is important to have major battery plants to support the EV development plan in the country. So far, besides Nissan, Britishvolt is the only company that has announced plans to open a large battery plant in the UK, planning to spend GBP2.6bn on building the gigafactory in Blyth, Northumberland.