Nissan is reportedly urging the UK government to allocate tens of millions of pounds to build a new electric car battery "gigafactory" in Sunderland.
The Japanese automaker hopes to support the construction of a facility that can produce up to 200,000 batteries per year at Nissan's existing Sunderland site. The system would be operated by Chinese battery maker Envision AESC.
In a statement, Envision said it had no comment "at this time." It was suggested last week that Tesla CEO Elon Musk would consider building a gigafactory in Somerset after an air visit to the UK. However, the company declined to comment on the speculation.
It is expected to open in 2024 and will produce 6 gigawatt hours of battery capacity per year, far more than Nissan's existing Sunderland plant with a capacity of 1.9 GWh. It would still be dwarfed by Tesla's 35 GWh gigafactory in Nevada, USA. Nissan had previously warned that a Brexit trade deal with tariffs and border controls would jeopardize the future of the Sunderland plant, which employs 6,000 people.
Nissan said: “After starting production of electric vehicles and batteries for the Nissan Leaf in the UK in 2013, our Sunderland facility has pioneered the development of the electric vehicle market.
“As already announced, we will continue to electrify our range as part of our global journey towards CO2 neutrality. However, we currently have no further plans to announce. ""
Details of the planned installation were first reported by the Financial Times on Wednesday. The announcement of the new facility could be made ahead of the COP26 climate summit in the UK later this year.
A spokesperson for the Department of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "We are committed to the safety of gigafactories and continue to work closely with investors and car manufacturers to push forward plans for mass production of batteries in the UK."
Nissan already makes batteries for its electric Leaf model at an Envision-operated factory adjacent to the Sunderland production line. The Leaf is the best-selling electric car in Europe.
This week, Ofgem, the energy regulator, announced plans to add 300,000 new charging points for electric cars at locations across the UK, including 35 motorways, to make driving more environmentally friendly. The £ 300 million investment will triple the current network.
The investment is part of an estimated £ 40bn investment plan to strengthen the UK's electric vehicle infrastructure.