LONDON — Nissan will invest more than 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) to update its factory in northeast England to make electric versions of its two best-selling cars, a boost for the British government as it tries to revive the country’s ailing economy.
The Japanese automaker manufactures the gasoline-powered Qashqai and smaller Juke crossover vehicles at the factory in Sunderland, which employs 6,000 workers.
The company said it’s directly investing up to 1.12 billion pounds to produce electric successors to the two models. The money also will enable “wider investment in infrastructure projects and the supply chain, including a new gigafactory” at the site, the government said in a separate press release.
“Nissan’s investment is a massive vote of confidence in the U.K.’s automotive industry,” which contributes 71 billion pounds a year to the economy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
The Qashqai is the U.K.’s second most popular vehicle this year, while the Juke is seventh.
Nissan said in 2021 that it planned to build an electric vehicle at the factory, alongside batteries made at a gigafactory next door by supplier Envision AESC of China.
EVs are “at the heart of our plans to achieve carbon neutrality,” Nissan President and CEO Makoto Uchida said. “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.”
Nissan Motor Co. has set a target of electrifying its entire passenger car lineup in Europe by 2030, joining other automakers making the transition to EV production, even as Sunak pushed back a deadline to end the sale of new gas and diesel cars by five years.
BMW said earlier this year that it’s investing 600 million pounds into its Mini factory in Oxford, England, to start making electric vehicles by 2026.
India’s Tata Sons, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, is building a 4 billion-pound EV battery factory in the U.K. that’s expected to produce about 40 gigawatt hours of battery cells every year, enough to provide half the U.K.’s electric vehicle batteries.
Stellantis, parent company of British automaker Vauxhall, is investing 100 million pounds to make electric vans and cars in northwestern England.