A BILLION pound boost to the UK auto industry is coming from Nissan with the announcement it is to create an electric vehicle hub at its factory in Sunderland.
The move - which also includes Â£423 million to build a new all-electric crossover SUV at the plant - was greeted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a major vote of confidence in the UK economy.
Centred around the record-breaking facility in Sunderland the Nissan EV36Zero project will supercharge the company's drive to carbon neutrality and establish a new solution for zero-emission motoring.
The transformational project has been launched with an initial £1bn investment by Nissan and its partners Envision AESC, a global player in world-leading battery technology, and Sunderland City Council.
Comprised of three interconnected initiatives, Nissan EV36Zero brings together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery production, setting a blueprint for the future of the automotive industry.
Nissan president and chief executive officer, Makoto Uchida said: "This project comes as part of Nissan's pioneering efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire lifecycle of our products. Our comprehensive approach includes not only the development and production of EVs, but also the use of on-board batteries as energy storage and their reuse for secondary purposes.
"Our announcement today comes out of lengthy discussions held within our teams, and will greatly accelerate our efforts in Europe to achieve carbon neutrality. The experience and know-how gained through the project announced today will be shared globally, enhancing Nissan's global competitiveness.
"Nissan will continue to leverage its strengths in electrification to become a company that continues to provide value to its customers and society."
Mr Johnson said: "Nissan's announcement to build its new-generation all-electric vehicle in Sunderland, alongside a new gigafactory from Envision-AESC, is a major vote of confidence in the UK and our highly-skilled workers in the North East.
"Building on over 30 years of history in the area, this is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.
"Commitments like these exemplify our ability to create hundreds of green jobs and boost British industry, whilst also allowing people to travel in an affordable and sustainable way so we can eliminate our contributions to climate change."
Unveiling Nissan EV36Zero at the Sunderland Plant today, Nissan's chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, said: "This is a landmark day for Nissan, our partners, the UK and the automotive industry as a whole. Nissan EV36Zero will transform the idea of what is possible for our industry and set a roadmap for the future for all.
"We reached a new frontier with the Nissan LEAF, the world's first mass-market all-electric vehicle. Now, with our partners, Nissan will pioneer the next phase of the automotive industry as we accelerate towards full electrification and carbon neutrality."
Building on Nissan's 35 years of manufacturing excellence in Sunderland, the projects announced today represent 6,200 jobs at Nissan and its UK suppliers, including more than 900 new Nissan jobs and 750 new Envision AESC jobs at its new smart, low-carbon battery plant.
Longer-term, the transformational project modernises and expands Nissan's EV production capability in the UK.
Envision AESC, the battery arm of global green tech company Envision Group, will deploy integrated AIoT smart technology to monitor and optimize energy consumption, manufacturing and maintenance at its new gigafactory, enabling it to rapidly increase production and provide batteries to power up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles a year.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: "This fantastic investment by Nissan and Envision-AESC represents a solemn commitment to the people of Sunderland, bringing further high-skilled jobs and turbocharging our plans to level up the North East. This is a huge step forward in our ambition to put the UK at the front of the global electric vehicle race, and further proof, if any was needed, that the UK remains one of the most competitive locations in the world for automotive manufacturing.
"I am extremely proud that Nissan has not only reaffirmed its belief in Britain, but is doubling down on its long-standing commitment to our country. The cars made in this plant, using batteries made just down the road at the UK's first at scale gigafactory, will have a huge role to play as we transition away from petrol and diesel cars and kick-start a domestic electric vehicle manufacturing base."
As part of the £1 billion announcement, Nissan will invest up to £423 million to produce a new-generation all-electric vehicle.
Building on Nissan's expertise in crossovers and the worldwide success of the Nissan LEAF, it promises next-generation vehicle styling, efficiency and battery technology, making the switch to electric driving even more accessible.
Designed for global markets, UK production will be exported to the European markets traditionally served by the Sunderland plant. The new crossover will be built on the Alliance CMF-EV platform, with a forecasted production capacity of up to 100,000 units.
Production in Sunderland will create 909 new jobs at the plant, and more than 4,500 in the UK supply chain, while safeguarding a further 75 research and development jobs. The transformational project takes the total capital investment by Nissan into the plant past £5bn.
Nissan started production in Sunderland in July 1986. Since then the plant has grown into the biggest plant in the history of the UK automotive industry, supporting 46,000 UK jobs.
Also based in the UK are Nissan's European Design Centre in Paddington, London (NDE) and R&D Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire (NTCE), designing and engineering Nissan vehicles for customers across the region and beyond.
Current production in Sunderland includes the Nissan Qashqai, Juke and LEAF, most of which (70 per cent) are exported to mainland Europe with 20 per cent sold in the UK and a further 10 per cent exported to markets than span the globe, from South America to Australia, and from the Nordics to South Africa.
The new £1 billion Nissan EV36Zero development heralds the next phase of Nissan's electrification plan and its UK operations.