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Nissan is boosting UK production despite Brexit

Nissan relocates battery production to the UK due to Brexit deal

Image credit: Reuters

Nissan has said it will move production of batteries used in its Leaf electric cars to the UK in order to take advantage of new, post-Brexit trade rules.

The Japanese automaker currently makes the batteries in Japan but trade rules guaranteeing zero tariffs on EU exports if at least 55 per cent of the car’s value is derived from the UK or the EU have convinced it to shift production from its home country.

Chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta said he believes the last-minute agreement will “redefine” the UK’s auto industry.

Thousands of jobs at the firm’s Sunderland car factory will be protected under the move, with Nissan adding that the factory is now more competitive since the signing of the Brexit deal.

The deal, which was signed on Christmas Eve, ensured that a 10 per cent levy on cars would be avoided, provided they meet local content rules.

About 30,000 Leaf electric cars are made annually at the Sunderland factory, most with a locally sourced 40kWh battery. But the more powerful versions featuring a 62kWh battery will now also be made in Britain instead of Japan.

In January, Nissan signed a deal with Uber to provide 2,000 vehicles for cab drivers in London as part of efforts to reduce air pollution.

“Brexit has brought the business continuity in the short term, protects 75,000 jobs across Europe and, most importantly, all of our models which we manufacture in Sunderland,” Gupta told a news briefing.

“Sunderland is one of the top three plants in the world for competitiveness for Nissan. Brexit gives us the competitive advantage in the UK and outside.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the commitment by the manufacturer to continue investing in the UK.

He tweeted: “This is a great vote of confidence in the UK and fantastic news for the brilliant @Nissan workforce in Sunderland and electric vehicle manufacturing in this country.”

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Nissan’s decision represents a genuine belief in Britain and a huge vote of confidence in our economy thanks to the vital certainty that our trade deal with the EU has given the auto sector.

“For the dedicated and highly skilled workforce in Sunderland, it means the city will be home to Nissan’s latest models for years to come and positions the company to capitalise on the wealth of benefits that will flow from electric vehicle production as part of our green industrial revolution.”

Last year saw UK car manufacturing plummet amid reduced demand and working restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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