Nissan’s Battery Plant In Sunderland To Produce Next-Gen EV Batteries

11 months ago by Mark Kane 29

Nissan Sunderland Plant

Nissan Sunderland Plant

Lithium-ion battery production at Nissan Sunderland Plant

Lithium-ion battery production at Nissan Sunderland Plant

Nissan announced that its huge Sunderland plant in the UK will also produce future generation electric vehicle batteries.

Nissan produces various models in Sunderland, including the LEAF, and lithium-ion batteries (cells, modules and packs).

Something had earlier been hanging in the air as Sunderland was the only Nissan battery facility that didn’t launch new lithium-ion cell production for 30 kWh packs found in the high range versions of the 2016 LEAF today (Sunderland still manufactures model base/older tech 24 kWh packs).

Today, those 30 kWh cells are imported from Japan, while the U.S. also established an additional production line for “30 kWh cells” in Smyrna, TN.

The lack of new “30 kWh” production had left many to wonder if Euro production of the next generation cells would ultimately be imported from another Nissan facility (Japan or the US), or if this signaled where a recent collaboration with LG Chemical might see the Korean battery maker supplying cells for Europe.  That apparently will not be the case, or the facility will at least share production duties.

Our understanding of the situation is that Sunderland will skip this “30 kWh” stage entirely, and introduce something new – mostly likely the next-generation batteries for the LEAF (such as the 60 kWh battery we seen teased in Nissan’s IDS Concept) and other future plug-ins.

High Density Module From Nissan's New 60 kWh Battery

High Density Module Stack From Nissan’s New 60 kWh Battery

“Nissan today announced a vote of confidence in European manufacturing by awarding production of future generation electric vehicle (EV) batteries to the company’s manufacturing facility in Sunderland, UK.

Representing a £26.5m investment, this commitment will safeguard 300 highly-skilled jobs in manufacturing, maintenance and engineering at Nissan’s advanced lithium-ion battery plant in Sunderland, the largest of its type in Europe.

The facility is one of three Nissan battery production sites globally and will provide battery modules for the all-electric Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 electric van, which is manufactured at Nissan’s facility in Barcelona, Spain.

Already the global leaders in electric vehicles with over 200,000 Nissan LEAFs on the road worldwide covering a total of two billion electric miles, today’s announcement is another stake in the ground as Nissan reaffirms its commitment to a 100 percent electric future. In 2015 alone, Nissan sold 43,651 LEAFs worldwide, 15,630 of which were in Europe.”

Nissan IDS concept - 60 kWh battery

Nissan IDS concept – 60 kWh battery (that we expect will also power the next generation LEAF in 2017)

Nissan IDS Concept

Nissan IDS Concept

Paul Willcox, Chairman, Nissan Europe, said:

“The Nissan LEAF has transformed the performance and perception of EVs and made Nissan the undisputed leader in EV technology. Today’s announcement reflects Nissan’s intention to remain EV leaders for many years to come, with our European operations at the heart of our future innovations.”

“Nissan has achieved second-to-none quality levels since launching battery manufacturing in Sunderland, and securing this critical future production is a testament to our success. This news coincides with the launch of the 250km range Nissan LEAF. Now in its third generation, the LEAF continues to go from strength to strength as we realize our electric motoring vision.”

Full press release below:

Nissan announces future generation electric vehicle batteries for UK production

New project secures EV battery innovations for the UK

Global leader Nissan poised to strengthen position in EV technology

Announcement heralds 30th anniversary of Nissan Sunderland Plant

Sunderland, UK, January 21st, 2016:
Nissan has today announced its commitment to produce a future generation of electric vehicle (EV) batteries at its flagship manufacturing base in Sunderland, UK.

Representing a £26.5m investment in the UK, this commitment will safeguard 300 highly-skilled jobs in manufacturing, maintenance and engineering at Nissan’s advanced lithium-ion battery plant in Sunderland, the largest of its type in Europe.

The announcement comes at the beginning of a landmark year in which Nissan will celebrate the 30th anniversary year of its Sunderland factory – now the largest plant in the history of the UK car industry.

Already the global leaders in electric vehicles, and with a new 155-mile (250km) range Nissan LEAF on sale across Europe this month, this long-term commitment signals Nissan’s bold vision for the future of zero-emission motoring.

Paul Willcox, Chairman, Nissan Europe, said: “With 200,000 customers around the world already, the Nissan LEAF has transformed the performance and perception of EVs and made Nissan the undisputed leader in EV technology.

“Today’s announcement reflects Nissan’s intention to remain EV leaders for many years to come, with our UK operations at the heart of our future innovations.”

Since EV production began in Sunderland in 2013, a £420m investment, the Battery Plant and Nissan LEAF production have supported more than 2,000 jobs at Nissan and in its UK supply chain.

Paving the way for future generation batteries will be a groundbreaking new £19.4m project that will team Nissan with new academic and technology partners in the UK, supported with a £9.7m grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

The other consortium members are Hyperdrive Innovation, Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick, Newcastle University and Zero Carbon Futures, who will work together on key areas of battery development covering pilot projects, product diversification and process improvement.

UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This investment from Nissan is a further vote of confidence in our thriving automotive sector.

“The UK is fast becoming a world leader in low carbon automotive technology and the government is backing the industry. We committed an extra £225million funding to the Advanced Propulsion Centre in the Autumn Statement.

“This Nissan project, which is benefiting from that funding, shows what can be achieved.”

Willcox added: “I congratulate all my colleagues in the UK on securing this future technology, which is just reward for the second-to-none quality levels they have achieved since launching battery manufacturing in Sunderland, which remains the biggest UK car plant of all time.”

Nissan’s UK battery plant is one of three Nissan battery production sites globally, also providing battery modules for Nissan’s all-electric van, the e-NV200, which is manufactured in the company’s plant in Barcelona, Spain.

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29 responses to "Nissan’s Battery Plant In Sunderland To Produce Next-Gen EV Batteries"

  1. alain says:

    this is news ,maybee they will move a little faster because of the bolt .they don’t want to lose the super lead they have.

  2. alain says:

    if they upgrade e-nv200 to 60 kw batt i’m buying it for my buisness

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I’ll take a couple myself, an all-electric 60 kWh commercial/passenger van (maybe ~160 ‘real world’ miles of range) would be fantastical. Now if we could just convince Nissan to stop building the 24 kWh, limited quantities version in Spain and get with the program, (=

    2. walter says:

      me to

    3. evcarnut says:

      R U Alain Leyn**t ?.. jos. m….

    4. Kevin C. says:

      Yes,Yes,Yes and one more for good measure. Sick of rpg in my Astro van! (Red Lights per gallon) It’s appropriate for an electrician to drive an electric van. Or even a PHEV.

  3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    @Mark Kane:

    Hey, thanks for this news! Just what Nissan was going to do with its UK battery plant was a rather large unanswered question about the future of BEV battery production.

    Nice to see that Nissan is continuing to move in the direction of making most or all its own battery cells, rather than capping its EV production by making itself dependent on LG Chem, as GM and so many other EV makers are doing.

    Go Nissan!

    1. evcarnut says:

      How soon can we get them to make a 90+ KWH optional…

  4. Lou Grinzo says:

    As I’ve been saying for years, one of the most fascinating and important parts of this transition to electrified transportation is how car companies will manage their product lines during this time of very rapid battery improvement.

    Given the high cost and long development time for a new car or even a generation-level update of an existing model, this is a non-trivial problem, to put it mildly.

    For example, how do you price the Bolt or Leaf 2.0? You know, with a pretty high degree of certainty, that batteries will decline non-trivially in price during the first 5 year generation of those cars. You can’t cut the vehicle’s price in mid-generation or you’ll seriously anger people who just bought and sabotage future sales. So, do you price the car so you make a small profit in year 1, assuming you’ll make a bigger profit in later years? But if you do that, you risk being priced too high relative to competitors by then.

    It’s one of those situations that makes me very happy I’m not in charge of making those decisions. But I would LOVE to hear the discussions that go on inside GM or Nissan or wherever about such matters.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Back when the Leaf was just beginning production, some Nissan exec was quoted as saying they planned to start making a profit (i.e., moving from red ink to black) in the third year of production. But since then, Nissan has found it necessary to build Leaf assembly plants and battery factories in Tennessee and the UK.

      A recent article here at InsideEVs expressed the opinion that the Leaf model has, to date, earned no overall profit for Nissan. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s true. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leaf is still in red ink. Building two auto assembly plants and two battery factories must have cost Nissan a great deal of money!

      We can hope that going forward, Nissan will be able to make a profit on its BEVs. Ditto for GM and the Bolt, altho GM appears to be more cautious about actually investing in the tech, by contracting with LG Chem & LG Electronics for the entire Bolt EV powertrain, including battery pack.

      As I have said in the past: Investigative reporters say “Follow the money.” When it comes to making and selling compelling, long-range plug-in EVs in large numbers: Follow the battery production.

      Only those EV makers who can control their own battery cell supply, by investing in building their own battery factories, are serious about making and selling compelling long-range PEVs in large numbers. So far, that’s only Nissan, BYD, and Tesla.

    2. wavelet says:

      I don’t think the declining-cost issue is a significant one, customer-facing. You have to remember that for the coming few years, buyers will still mostly be early adopters, who understand that this is leading edge tech so things change rapidly (is anyone angry because the top-of-the-line smartphone goes down in price 40% 6 months later, and after another year, its specs are considered low-end?)
      Also, I expect a lof of the cost declined to be negated by the incdentives going away — governments aren’t going to keep on with multi-1000$/£/€ subsidies once marketshare is 5% (and probably sooner).

  5. Alan says:

    I had guessed this was on the cards when I asked Nissan UK a few weeks ago and they told me they didn’t have any plans currently to put the 30 kWh battery in the e-nv200.

    I’m convinced they will release the 60 kWh battery by the middle of next year.

  6. Alex says:

    Damm!! Ghosn is a shark. When i read they don’t produce the 30 kWh i thought Ghosn will skip the 30 kWh in Europe!
    And one more: I think Ghosn will skip upgrade for all 200.000 Leaf, makes no sense when next year they will produce LG. Maybe there is an upgrade possibility for all Leaf I to maybe ~ 35 kWh LG cells where Nissan don’t need to subsidize.

  7. As it stands today Nissan’s battery pack production is equally split between 30 kWh and 24 kWh pack versions.

    While the SV/SL are equipped with a 30 kWh pack, the S still accounts for ~50% of deliveries. The SV and SL account for ~35% and ~15% of deliveries in the U.S.

  8. Pete says:

    Take that GM! Sunderland can produce 60.000 x 60 kWh battery packs for next Leaf, more than GM wants to produce for US and Europe.

  9. kdawg says:

    Will this be the LG chemistry/recipe?

    1. Alex says:

      What do you think after they testing LG cells for more than 12 months and 6 months ago Ghosn said following “Best Battery Maker Is LG Chem” – Wait, What?” (insideevs story).

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      kdawg asked:

      “Will this be the LG chemistry/recipe?”

      Nissan and LG Chem are remaining pretty close-mouthed about it, but I’ve been guessing for some time that Nissan has or will license LG Chem’s recipe for production in their own battery factories. All the public reports I’ve seen, including this article, appear to me to be compatible with that scenario.

      Still, this is speculation on my part, not confirmed as fact.

  10. changeforgood says:

    samsung SDI, will a few people are not aware that renault and samsung produce cars together, if samsung goes to build EV, the nissan/renault alliance could get a deal on cheaper parts from samsung.

  11. John says:

    This is good news, and I can’t help but think it may be a sign that Nissan is serious about competing with the Bolt by trying to have product out about the same time as GM.

    GM has a pretty compelling vehicle with the Bolt, but I still have some nagging doubts about their EV commitment. 2017 should be a very interesting year to watch. Break out the popcorn.

  12. David Galvan says:

    “Already the global leaders in electric vehicles, and with a new 155-mile (250km) range Nissan LEAF on sale across Europe this month. . .”

    Eh? I though the 2016 model year Leaf had a range of 107 miles (rated by EPA). Is there a 155 mile rated version now?

    1. Alex says:

      155 miles is NEDC (New European Driving Cycle). In Japan the 2016 Leaf is rated with 280 km. Every continent has different driving cycles…

      1. David Galvan says:

        Ah. Thanks.

        But, yeesh, how can they be so different from each other? Physics (or driving conditions) ought not to be so different on different continents.

        Does the NEDC cycle only test the EV going down hill, or something?

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Unfortunately, neither the NEDC nor the EPA test cycles involve driving the car in actual, real-world driving conditions. I can understand why; there would be too many variables that would unfairly affect the outcome. How heavy the traffic is on the day, how many red lights you hit… these would be just a couple of the variables which would give inconsistent testing results.

          Here is a web page that explains how the EPA does car tests for MPG, and EV range ratings are calculated in a similar fashion:

          https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/how_tested.shtml

          Note this is stationary testing, with wind resistance merely calculated by using what the auto maker reports for drag coefficient (Cd) and frontal area. Obviously this can only be an estimate, so right away we can see how the official numbers might vary significantly from real-world results. This problem is exacerbated by auto makers reporting inaccurate data for Cd and frontal area; independent wind tunnel tests often report significantly different data.

          European (NEDC) ratings are much worse than U.S. (EPA) ratings, partly due to the fact that European auto makers have become quite adept at “gaming the system”; engineering their cars to show high energy efficiency (or fuel efficiency) and low emissions under the exact conditions used when the NEDC tests are run. VW’s infamous software “cheat” was the worst, far more dishonest than what the other auto makers are doing, but that’s a matter of degree rather than kind.

          More info on that subject here:
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/green-motoring/9241054/Fuel-economy-why-your-car-wont-match-the-official-mpg.html

          And lest you think that it’s only the Europeans who are so inept at coming up with realistic ratings, remember this infamous early EPA rating for the Volt, based on test criteria which fortunately are no longer used:

          http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/chevy-volt-gm-230-mpg-photo01.jpg

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            So what’s the solution? I’d suggest letting Edmunds.com establish new testing standards. As I understand it, Edmuunds.com’s independent tests for MPG and EV range are, at least generally, a more accurate reflection of real-world driving conditions than the “official” ratings.

  13. Murrysville EV says:

    If we assume Nissan, GM, Tesla, and possibly Hyundai each produce a 60 kWh car in the next year or two, I would probably choose from them in this order:

    1. Hyundai
    2. Tesla
    3. GM
    4. Nissan

    Although I loved my 12 Leaf, Nissan really bombed the range calculator, and its battery degraded poorly. Battery performance in the winter was terrible, but I think the resistive heater was only partly to blame.

    Interior space will be important to me. Tesla could get my top vote due to its 100% commitment to EVs. But I remain a Hyundai/Kia partisan and wouldn’t mind giving them more of my business. A Bolt would be my first GM car, but I like what I see so far.

  14. Rudy Clark says:

    I’ve noticed no one commented on the 3rd generation quote from Nissan.

    While we all agree the LEAF is in its 1st generation, me thinks Nissan officials are referring to the battery generation according to their viewpoint.

    Gen 1 batery was in the 2010-2012 car

    Gen 2 battery was in the 2013-2014 car

    Gen 3 battery was the 2015 Lizard chemistry.

    Just my rambling thoughts.

  15. M. St. J. says:

    Just turned in my 2012 leaf for a 2016 pathfinder. While gas is a dollar 65 in this area I hope that’ll hold me over till I can lease another leaf bolt Tesla and 2018.