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Nissan seeks taxpayer millions to build gigafactory in Sunderland

Nissan is seeking tens of millions of pounds of government support to build a “gigafactory” in Sunderland to make batteries for electric cars.

The Japanese carmaker is in advanced talks to build a plant that would make batteries for as many as 200,000 cars a year and create thousands of jobs. As part of government plans for a “green industrial revolution”, new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from 2030, meaning that sales of electric models are expected to rise sharply.

The Faraday Institution, an independent organisation that researches batteries for the car industry, has said that the UK will need eight gigafactories by 2040 to meet demand.

Investing in gigafactories could boost employment in the carmaking industry by 60,000 to 250,000 jobs, it has said. Nissan said: “Having established [electric vehicle 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.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, said: “We are dedicated to securing gigafactories and continue to work closely with investors and vehicle manufacturers to progress plans to mass produce batteries in the UK.”

The proposed Nissan factory is destined for completion towards the end of 2024, according to the Financial Times. Britishvolt is building the UK’s first gigafactory, in Blyth in northeast England. It aims to make enough batteries for 300,000 electric cars a year by 2027. The £2.6 billion project has pledged to generate 3,000 jobs. The private company, owned by Lars Carlstrom, an automotive industry veteran, and the Abu Dhabi financier Orral Nadjari, aims to start production at the end of 2023.

Stellantis, the owner of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory, has been in talks with the government about support to build a gigafactory at the site.