Nissan & Envision AESC to spearhead UK lithium ion economy with 25 GWh battery gigafactory

Nissan and Envision AESC have committed to building an electric vehicle “ecosystem” in Sunderland, UK, with a 25 GWh battery megafactory at the heart of the plan.

Through an initial investment of £450 million, Envision AESC will build its second UK megafactory in Sunderland, while Nissan is committing £423 million into electric vehicle production in the region.

The first phase will see the development of a 9 GWh capacity battery cell plant, which Benchmark estimates could supply 160,000-170,000 electric vehicles. There is opportunity to expand this to 25 GWh capacity through an additional £1.8 billion investment from Envision AESC, with a current timeframe of 2030 and the potential to increase to 35 GWh.

This builds on Nissan’s  experience in developing what was one of the world’s first integrated battery cell manufacturing plants in Sunderland, UK, in 2012. The 1.9 GWh facility was originally developed by Nissan’s battery division AESC before being sold to Envision Group in 2018, forming Envision AESC.

The facility initially produced battery packs for the Nissan LEAF, which were much smaller than those used in today’s electric vehicles. Since then, pure electric vehicles battery cell requirements have grown with larger packs requiring a greater quantity of cells.

“This is a major step forward for the UK, marking the beginning of the country’s lithium ion economy” explained Simon Moores, Managing Director, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

“The lithium ion battery is a core platform technology of the 21st, enabling billions of pounds worth of downstream revenue and potential for hundreds of thousands of jobs through electric vehicles and energy storage industries”

The UK will need to build 175GWh of battery cell capacity that is ramped and ready by 2035 at a cost of £15bn. But the real key to success is building the supply chain, from mine to battery cell, and the ecosystem to support long term growth,” Moores added.

Building the UK’s lithium ion economy 

During this June’s G7 Summit, Benchmark presented on what the UK needs to do to build a lithium ion economy, outlining its battery cell and raw material needs. Watch Benchmark’s presentation here:

This video is taken from Benchmark Video Streaming, available to all Benchmark Membership subscribers. Not a Benchmark Member? Learn more here.

The UK and the rise of the battery megafactories

While the UK had its first integrated cell-to-EV plant back in 2012, the country has since then fallen behind the world’s leading economies in battery capacity buildout. Looking out to 2030, the country holds less than 1% of global battery capacity in the pipeline according to Benchmark’s Lithium ion Battery Megafactory Assessment.

This is spread across two megafactories, Envision AESC’s existing 1.9 GWh megafactory cell plant in Sunderland, which is the UK’s only operational megafactory and Britishvolt’s 30 GWh plant which remains at a development stage.

The new Nissan and Envision AESC megafactory is a major boost to the UK’s fledgling lithium ion economy, almost doubling the country’s battery capacity pipeline to 2030.

While this is a significant step for the UK, it still needs to build further lithium ion cell production capacity and develop its battery raw material, chemical, cathode, and anode supply to support these advances.

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