Nissan accelerates switch to full electric with £1.1bn UK investment

Posted on 24 Nov 2023 by The Manufacturer

Nissan is charging ahead with its vision for a zero emissions future, with confirmation that all three models made at its UK plant will go 100% electric.

Today’s announcement means the EV36Zero hub in Sunderland, Nissan’s blueprint for future manufacturing, will consist of three electric vehicles (EVs), three gigafactories and up to £3bn investment – great news for Nissan’s 7,000 UK employees and the 30,000 jobs supported in the UK supply chain.

Not only does the transformational project include future all-electric versions of Nissan’s flagship Qashqai and JUKE crossovers, but Nissan is also confirming today that the third vehicle planned for UK production will be next-generation Nissan LEAF, the car that dared to spark the electrification of the automotive industry.

Both vehicle and battery manufacturing will be powered by the EV36Zero Microgrid, which will incorporate the wind and solar farms at Nissan and will have the capability to deliver 100% renewable electricity to Nissan and its neighbouring suppliers.

Announcing the plans today to colleagues at the Sunderland plant, Nissan President and CEO Makoto Uchida said: “Exciting, electric vehicles are at the heart of our plans to achieve carbon neutrality. With electric versions of our core European models on the way, we are accelerating towards a new era for Nissan, for industry and for our customers.

“The EV36Zero project puts our Sunderland plant, Britain’s biggest ever car factory, at the heart of our future vision. It means our UK team will be designing, engineering and manufacturing the vehicles of the future, driving us towards an all-electric future for Nissan in Europe.”

Today’s announcement follows Nissan’s confirmation that all its new cars in Europe from now will be fully electric, and that it expects its passenger car line-up in Europe to be 100% electric by 2030. It also builds on Nissan’s Ambition 2030 vision to become a truly sustainable company, driving towards a cleaner, safer, and more inclusive world.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Nissan’s investment is a massive vote of confidence in the UK’s automotive industry, which already contributes a massive £71bn a year to our economy. This venture will no doubt secure Sunderland’s future as the UK’s Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing.

“Making the UK the best place to do business is at the heart of our economic plan. We will continue to back businesses like Nissan to expand and grow their roots in the UK every step of the way as we make the right long term decisions for a brighter future.”

Three new electric vehicles

Nissan’s latest investment includes up to £1.12bn into its UK operations and wider supply chain for R&D and manufacturing of the two new models announced today, including facility and manufacturing process improvements, skills training, and tooling for suppliers. This follows the £423m investment announced by Nissan in the first phase of EV36Zero for the first future EV.

These three new electric vehicles represent the future for all three models currently manufactured in Nissan Sunderland Plant:

  • Nissan Qashqai – the original crossover, the UK’s best-selling car of 2022 and which represents one in five of all cars built in the UK.
  • Nissan JUKE – the rule-breaking compact crossover which has sold more than one million units.
  • Nissan LEAF – the world’s first mass market EV, of which more than a quarter of a million have been built in Sunderland.

The three future models will be inspired by three exciting all-electric concept models, two of which were recently unveiled at the Japan Mobility Show:

  • The Nissan Hyper Urban Concept, a crossover EV characterised by a sleek and modern aesthetic.
  • The Nissan Hyper Punk Concept, an all-electric compact crossover with an exterior aesthetic defined by multifaceted and polygonal surfaces.
  • The Nissan Chill-Out Concept, unveiled in 2021 and previously confirmed as the inspiration for a future EV to be built in Sunderland.

Further information about the three models, including names, specifications and launch dates, will be released at a later time.


Today’s news builds on Nissan and partners’ initial £1bn investment to create EV36Zero, transforming its Sunderland manufacturing facility and creating a world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem.

Complementing vehicle and battery production is the Sunderland City Council-initiated Microgrid project, which will have the capability to deliver 100% renewable electricity to Nissan and its neighbouring suppliers, incorporating the existing Nissan wind and solar farms, including Nissan’s brand new 20MW solar farm.

The additional two models, alongside an additional gigafactory and further investment for infrastructure projects, will result in an investment of up to £2bn. It means Nissan’s plans for the future electric versions of Qashqai, JUKE, and the replacement for LEAF, will enable up to a £3bn investment in the UK.

In addition, the UK Government has awarded £15m of funding for a £30m collaborative project led by Nissan. It will strengthen the technical expertise and R&D zero emission vehicle capability of the Nissan Technical Centre (NTCE) in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, increasing opportunities for securing additional UK R&D investment in future vehicle models.

Today’s announcement comes as a new Investment Zone (IZ) was confirmed for North East England. The North East Investment Zone will focus on Advanced Manufacturing and Green Industries, building on the Arc of Innovation running from Northumberland down to Sunderland and Durham with opportunities along the Tyne Corridor and benefits felt across the wider region.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: “Nissan has a proud history in car manufacturing in Sunderland and their continued commitment to the UK shows how our support for business is getting results – helping create thousands of jobs and solidifying Britain’s place as the world’s 8th largest manufacturer.”

UK Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “The investment by Nissan in Sunderland shows once again that the Government’s plan for the automotive sector is working.
“The forthcoming Advanced Manufacturing Plan will build on this deal and other recent big investment wins for the UK car industry, helping to support thousands of jobs and drive growth across the UK.”

Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news for Sunderland, the North East and the UK – building on our world-leading strengths in automotive and advanced manufacturing, creating high quality jobs, growing our low carbon economy and further positioning us at the heart of electrification on a global stage. It is a huge vote of confidence in the city and region – and our people – that Nissan has again chosen to invest here.

“The strength of our partnership with businesses like these alongside our ability to work with Government is essential to the continued success of the sector, and the Investment Zone for the North East announced today means we can build on our track record by attracting further investment of this scale and significance.”

EV36Zero is a key part of Nissan Ambition 2030, the company’s long-term vision to become a truly sustainable company, driving towards a cleaner, safer, and more inclusive world. In this period Nissan will deliver exciting, electrified vehicles and technological innovations while expanding and transforming its operations globally. The vision supports Nissan’s goal to be carbon neutral across the lifecycle of its products by fiscal year 2050.

Sheena Patel, Director and automotive sector specialist at management consultancy, Vendigital, commented: “Nissan’s investment into the UK automotive industry is welcome for both the economy and job creation, however, more needs to be done to place the UK at the forefront of the move to electrification. Automotive products make up one of the UK’s largest exports and are one of its biggest economic drivers. To ensure this continues throughout the switch from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EV), more investment is required, as well as some fresh thinking about the industry as a whole.

“To make a success of the transition to EV manufacturing, consideration must be given to a variety of challenges, from trade tariffs imposed post-Brexit to manufacturing capability; all of which will impact the affordability of EVs for consumers. One way to reduce costs, as well as carbon emissions, is to manufacture in the UK, but significant investment will be required to make this a viable option. However, this is about more than building gigafactories: the entire upstream and downstream ecosystem required for them to work successfully must be considered, including energy infrastructure, energy storage, capabilities and skills, and planning approvals.

“As new gigafactories spring up around the globe, the race for advanced manufacturing equipment is heating up, causing bottle necks and long supply lead times. The UK needs to make plans now to mitigate the risk of delays, staying close to technological breakthroughs and locking in timely design specifications that will allow factories to be designed with the appropriate equipment for battery cell production.

“Beginning now will also mean that OEMs can buy themselves time to increase production maturity in order to hit the Government’s target of zero emission vehicles by 2035. It means that they have time to evolve and account for initial high-cost of manufacture and lower throughput rates – both of which will improve as manufacturing capability and capacity increases – eventually leading to better economies of scale that can be passed on to the consumer.

“Having a domestic supply of EV batteries is vital, and right-sizing the supply chain locally will significantly improve speed and associated costs to market; ultimately lowering prices for consumers. Where private equity backed investment has been secured for start-ups in particular, this can potentially provide a quicker return on investment. It will also mean EVs are a truly ‘green’ alternative, with a lowered carbon footprint across the supply chain.

“While the £4.5bn investment announced in the Autumn Statement has been welcomed by the UK’s industry, there is still more to do to create the transparency needed to attract further investment from industry leaders and key decision makers across OEMs and Battery Manufacturers. What is needed most now are firm decisions on how this budget can be leveraged to support the manufacturing ecosystem with a clear funding strategy, as seen in other countries. For example, the US’ recent Inflation Reduction Act has accelerated its EV movement and provided incentives to consumers and organisations to localise supply chains, creating a flurry of activity.

“Ultimately, while this week’s announcements are great news for this industry, it is only the start of the investment roadmap required to move towards electrification, and the UK industry must move quickly to remain steadfast in what some would describe as the next phase of an industrial revolution.”

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