Nissan is reportedly in talks with UK ministers over plans to build a new battery gigafactory at its existing site in Sunderland.
The new facility, the FT reported, would be run by the Japanese car giant’s subsidiary Envision AESC, and would produce enough batteries for 200,000 electric cars each year.
Nissan said it had “no further plans to announce at this time”.
Such a move would be a huge vote of confidence in the UK car sector post-Brexit, as well as a significant boon for efforts to phase out all diesel and petrol cars by 2030.
Several sources told the FT that an announcement on the new plant could come in the summer, before the UK hosts the UN’s flagship COP26 climate summit.
The automaker has reportedly asked ministers for tens of millions of pounds of support for the project.
A Nissan spokesman said: “Having established EV and battery production in the UK in 2013 for the Nissan LEAF, our Sunderland plant has played a pioneering role in developing the electric vehicle market.
“As previously announced, we will continue to electrify our line-up as part of our global journey towards carbon neutrality, however we have no further plans to announce at this time.”
In a statement, Envision AESC said: “Envision AESC can confirm that following acquisition of the UK’s only battery plant in 2019 we have been supplying batteries to Nissan’s Sunderland plant to produce the Nissan Leaf. We have no further plans or comments to make at this time.”
Developing battery gigafactories is “essential” to making sure the UK’s car industry can remain competitive post-Brexit.
For instance, after the Brexit transition period ends in 2026, electric cars will not qualify for tariff-free trade if their batteries were imported from outside the UK or EU.
Thus far, however, just one such facility has been given the go-ahead, with start-up Britishvolt to build a £2.6bn plant in nearby Blyth.
When the plant is finished in 2027, it will produce 300,000 lithium-ion batteries a year, and employ 3,000 people.
Britishvolt said today that it welcomed the reports of further battery investment into the UK.
The new Nissan site, an upgrade to its existing battery factory, which supplies the Leaf, could open in 2024, the report said.
Once finished, it could supply 18-20 gigawatt hours of battery capacity a year, ten times the current plants capacity.