Nissan’s commitment to build electric vehicles in the UK, securing thousands of jobs, was evidence that major companies were “voting with their feet” and had confidence in the Government, the Prime Minister said.
Rishi Sunak visited the Japanese giant’s Sunderland plant with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, after the announcement that it will build new electric Qashqai and Juke models at the site.
Nissan is making a “direct investment of up to £1.12 billion”, according to the Government, but Mr Hunt declined to say how much the taxpayer was putting into the deal.
Speaking to reporters, Nissan’s global chief executive Makoto Uchida said the company has a “very good relationship” with the Government.
Earlier, Mr Sunak said that “company after company” was committing to the UK, mentioning BMW, Stellantis and Tata.
He said: “All of those companies think we’re doing the right thing, they actually welcome the changes that we made in the autumn statement recently to make sure that we cut taxes for businesses like this that are investing.
“They think we’ve got our strategy right as we approach net zero, and they think this is a fantastic place to be.
“They’re all voting with their feet. They’re putting money into the country, they’re creating jobs in the country.
“That’s a huge vote of confidence in this Government’s economic strategy.”
During the tour of the plant, where he placed a badge on a new Juke car, Mr Sunak praised workers, saying: “You can be very proud.”
The investment package will boost infrastructure projects and the supply chain, including the construction of a new gigafactory to make more batteries, to bring “a total new investment today of up to £2 billion”, the Government said.
And it could see Sunderland become the UK’s “Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation”, Mr Sunak said.
Mr Uchida, the company’s president and chief executive, said: “Exciting, electric vehicles are at the heart of our plans to achieve carbon neutrality.
“With electric versions of our core European models on the way, we are accelerating towards a new era for Nissan, for industry and for our customers.
“The EV36Zero project puts our Sunderland plant, Britain’s biggest ever car factory, at the heart of our future vision.
“It means our UK team will be designing, engineering and manufacturing the vehicles of the future, driving us towards an all-electric future for Nissan in Europe.”
Nissan employs 7,000 people in the UK with a further 30,000 jobs in the supply chain.
Paul Butler, chief executive of the North East Automotive Alliance, which represents manufacturers and suppliers in the region, said: “The commitment from Nissan to building 100% electric cars by 2030 reaffirms the region’s reputation as being the leading location for electric vehicle manufacture in the UK.
“This investment, along with easing of global supply chain constraints, will see the North East automotive sector grow by £4 billion over the next four years, making the combined turnover for the region in excess of £12 billion per annum.”
John McCabe, of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said the Sunderland base was the UK’s only car manufacturer with its own dedicated battery plant on site.
“This transformative project will create more skilled, higher-paid jobs and safeguard hundreds of jobs in the region, and will provide a significant boost to the North East’s economy,” he said.
Sunderland Central’s Labour MP Julie Elliott said: “This investment has come at a great time for Sunderland as a city, a city primed for investment, with a bright future ahead.”