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Nissan job ad puts Northeast at center of electric car revolution UK News

If you want to understand the importance of Nissan’s Sunderland plant, a good place to start could be its guestbook for the past five decades.

Every UK Prime Minister, from Margaret Thatcher to David Cameron – not to mention a few who really enjoyed the role – have visited Wearside, eager to cash in on its reputation for unparalleled manufacturing efficiency.

That race was ended by Theresa May, whose tenure as Prime Minister was dominated by Brexit, an issue that presented such a threat to Nissan that it led its executives to make unusual and probably reluctant public statements to do so. subject.

Read more: The pride of the head of the city in the Nissan factory

The prime ministers returned last week, however, as Boris Johnson made sure he was at Nissan as the company announced 900 new jobs and its battery partner Envision AESC 750 more, with the decision to build its next electric vehicle. in Sunderland.

Downing Street on Thursday declared Nissan’s announcement a “Brexit victory”, but Mr Johnson himself played down the claims, saying “we should leave this argument behind and look to the future”. For what it’s worth, Nissan’s job announcement brings the plant back to about where it was in terms of job numbers before the European referendum.

But with 4,500 more expected in the supply chain and Envision hinting that thousands more could follow in the years to come, Thursday was undoubtedly a good day for the Northeast’s economy.

The announcement was made in three parts: Nissan’s electric vehicle, a second Envision giga-factory to manufacture batteries and a renewable energy “micro-grid” to supply electricity to the two companies. The micro-grid is seen as essential to ensure that the processes to make electric vehicles greener – although inherently very energy intensive – are themselves better for the environment.

This will not be easy and will involve an increase in solar and wind power around the Nissan site, as well as facilities to store the energy so that it can be used at night and reduce the cost of the operation. For this to happen, the government has given Sunderland City Council £ 15million, although a further £ 80million needs to be raised from the private sector.

Workers listen to Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta announce the Japanese auto giant to build a new electric model in Sunderland
Workers listen to Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta announce the Japanese auto giant to build a new electric model in Sunderland

Alan Johnson, vice president of manufacturing at Nissan UK, had no doubts about the importance of Thursday’s announcement.

“It’s absolutely huge,” he said. “We are announcing three different projects, each of which in isolation is really important.

“When you combine them, you get a massive industrial project that really puts us in a fantastic position for our future as we move towards vehicle electrification and carbon neutrality.

“I’ve been with the company for 30 years and I can remember a few times when we announced something so big.

“It’s not just about winning a vehicle, which we normally advertise. This is a huge strategic direction that we are committing to – it is totally aligned with our vision on electrification and carbon neutrality and it gives us a wonderful platform to try to secure future new models beyond that. -this.

This view was shared by Sunderland City Council CEO Patrick Melia, who said: “This investment story indicates the unwavering faith we have in our collective ability to lead the electric revolution, working together. partnership with the private sector and government to deliver projects of national significance. to bear fruit.

“Sunderland is an ambitious city and today’s announcement is a game-changer, a transformation project for a transforming city that can play a key role in UK plc’s long-term success. ”

Nissan / Envision’s announcement also marked a potentially important moment for the region, when green industry was not the vain notion of committed environmentalists but a driver of real jobs and, perhaps, a centerpiece of the industry. economy of the Northeast.

Envision Group founder Lei Zhang – visiting Sunderland from China to be part of the announcement – certainly believes so, saying renewables could be the region’s ‘new mining’ and hinting that he could bring other parts of his group to the northeast.

And the UK’s shift to electric vehicles – with the sale of new petrol and diesel cars banned from 2030 – could create more jobs in the North East.

The planned Britishvolt plant at Cambois, near Blyth, would need far more than the government support of £ 100million rumored (but unconfirmed) to Nissan / Envision. Mr Johnson on Thursday called the Britishvolt project “formidable” and a recent report that the UK needs at least six gigabyte battery factories may give hope that the North East. .

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This notice was published: 2021-07-03 23:00:00

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