Many in the media have been asking two questions about Nissan. As its aging Leaf becomes a byword for EV obsolescence, will the company rejuvenate its once cutting-edge electrical efforts? And, amid the uncertainty following Brexit, will the automaker remain committed to its Nissan Motor Manufacturing plant in Sunderland, England, which employs some 7,500 workers?
A recent announcement appears to deliver a resounding Yes to both of these existential questions.
Nissan, together with battery supplier Envision AESC and Sunderland City Council, will invest a cool billion euros in Nissan EV36Zero, an “EV manufacturing ecosystem” centered around the Sunderland plant. The automaker also announced plans to produce a next-generation electric crossover at the site.
Nissan will invest up to £423 million in its UK operations, and expects to install production capacity of up to 100,000 units of the new crossover, which will be built on the Alliance CMF-EV platform. UK production will be exported to the European markets traditionally served by the Sunderland plant. “Other production locations have not yet been confirmed,” says Nissan, adding that more details about the new vehicle will be released closer to the sales launch.
Envision AESC, which is already producing batteries for Nissan’s LEAF and eNV200 in Sunderland, will invest £450 million to build a battery gigafactory adjacent to the Nissan plant. Initial annual capacity will be 9 GWh, and future phases of investment could bring capacity up to 25 GWh by 2030. Nissan says a new Gen5 battery cell will offer an increase of 30% in energy density.
Sunderland City Council is leading a project that aims to build a 100% renewable electricity microgrid, incorporating Nissan’s existing wind and solar farms. Initial plans suggest the creation of as many as ten solar farms, with 132 MW of generation capacity, as well as a 1 MW stationary storage system using second-life Nissan/Envision batteries.
“This project comes as part of Nissan’s pioneering efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire lifecycle of our products,” said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. “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. The experience and know-how gained through the project announced today will be shared globally, enhancing Nissan’s global competitiveness.”