North-East could be EV superpower after Nissan’s commitment


The news comes after Britishvolt announced plans for a ‘gigaplant’ in Blyth to manufacture electric car batteries

Nissan’s long-term commitment to the North-East could see the region become an electrical vehicle superpower, according to one industry leader.

The Japanese car giant’s chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta, said this week that the last-minute Brexit deal will “redefine” the UK’s auto industry and had given the Sunderland plant a competitive edge.

Sunderland is one of the top three plants in the world for competitiveness for Nissan, he said. Brexit gives us the competitive advantage in the UK and outside.

He said all models manufactured at Sunderland had been protected and Nissan will move production of batteries for its Leaf electric cars, currently imported from Japan, to the plant to take advantage of zero-tariff trade rules.

The news comes weeks after technology investor Britishvolt announced plans for a multi-million pound ‘gigaplant’ in Blyth to manufacture electric car batteries.

Chris McDonald, chief executive of the Teesside-based Materials Processing Institute, said: The announcement that additional battery production is to be moved closer to the plant is tremendous news for its 6,000 staff as well as the 70,000 jobs it supports in the supply chain.

As well as ending years of uncertainty, it also represents a vote of confidence in the region’s research and innovation capabilities and will surely act as a catalyst for other advanced technologies to develop, he said. This area already hosts some of the world’s leading experts and innovators in new technologies, which could in future guarantee the North East electric vehicle superpower status.

Unite national officer for automotive Steve Bush said: Mr Gupta’s backing for the Nissan plant in Sunderland is welcome and no less than this incredible, dedicated workforce deserves. Through continued economic and public health uncertainty, they have battled to maintain this plant as one of the most productive in the autos sector and to put it in the best place to transition to the next generation of vehicles.

Unite has called on the Government to push ahead with full UK-wide electrification – to bring stability to auto manufacturing in the North-East and show its commitment to green investment, levelling up and UK manufacturing.

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