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Nissan plugs in to electric future with UK battery plant
Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta poses with the Ariya all-electric SUV in Yokohama. Photo: Reuters.

Chinese company likely to run Sunderland factory as carmaker responds to Britain’s plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050

(AF) Nissan is set to announce a new electric vehicle (EV) battery factory in northeast England to be run by a Chinese company, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Shanghai-based Envision AESC would manage the proposed plant in Sunderland – near the Japanese carmaker’s existing facility.

The facility would support the production of 200,000 battery cars per year and provide thousands of jobs, according to reports by the Financial Times and Agence France-Presse.

The Chinese company and Nissan are expected to tap into a £500 million ($708 million) fund recently pledged by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains.

Britain plans to ban sales of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030, as it aims for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

FOREIGN-OWNED SECTOR

That means the country’s largely foreign-owned car manufacturing sector must switch to producing fully-electric cars.

Nissan established Britain’s first EV and battery production plant at Sunderland in 2013 with its Leaf car.

In 2007, it was a partner along with two other Japanese companies in the establishment of Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, a maker of lithium-ion batteries. Envision, a Chinese energy group, acquired a majority stake in 2018.

Nissan has sought to distance itself from the troubled tenure of fugitive former chief executive Carlos Ghosn – who escaped trial over salary irregularities and other allegations by fleeing to Lebanon – by cutting costs and developing new energy vehicles.

“Rebuilding itself away from the legacy of the past, Nissan has clearly demonstrated steady progress in fixed cost reductions and improved sales disciplines,” Jefferies equity analyst Takaki Nakanishi said. “Nissan’s slow recovery stands out.”

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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