NISSAN bosses have said its North East plant will 'take the lead' as they announced plans to spend more than £13 billion globally on developing electric vehicles.

At a news conference in Japan the car manufacturer, which has a major plant in Sunderland, revealed it will develop 23 new electric models by 2030.

By that time, the firm aims for half of its global output to be made up of electric vehicles.

Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta stressed the importance of the Sunderland plant for the firm’s plans.

The motor giant also revealed pictures of the crossover electric vehicle - which is currently known as the Nissan Chill-Out but will have a new model name once released - it will make at the site.

During a news conference, Mr Gupta said: “Europe will take the lead on electrification around the world for Nissan.

“In Europe, Sunderland is the one which will take the lead towards electrification.”

He said it was not only leading in electric vehicle production, but also battery manufacture and locally-produced green power with its EV36zero build hub, the concept it announced with Government support in the summer when Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the plant.

The firm will now expand that idea around the world.

Mr Gupta said: “Sunderland is the leader, in collaboration with the government, suppliers, dealers and most importantly, our employees.”

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson welcomed the news for the plant, which employs thousands of people, and the continued role the region is playing the green industry and the development of EVs.

She said: "It is fantastic to see Nissan's commitment once again to the Sunderland plant, solidifying our region's place in leading electric vehicle developments globally for the company. 

"The bold vision set out by Nissan's announcement moves us one step closer to meeting the demands of the future with EV technology at the forefront."

And Jonathan Walker, director of policy at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “Nissan makes an enormous contribution to our regional economy and helps to position the North East as a world leader in electric vehicles.

"It is great to hear that this is receiving global recognition.

"The site’s performance is down to an outstanding workforce and leadership team who so deserve this success and being held up as an exemplar.”

Nissan said it will spend two trillion yen, around £13.2 billion, on electric vehicles over the next five years.

Chief executive Makoto Uchida said: “The role of companies to address societal needs is increasingly heightened.

“With Nissan Ambition 2030, we will drive the new age of electrification, advance technologies to reduce carbon footprint and pursue new business opportunities.

“We want to transform Nissan to become a sustainable company that is truly needed by customers and society.”

Nissan has plans to bring in all-solid-state batteries by 2028, which will be one-third quicker to charge.

The Northern Echo:

Nissan also released more detail about the crossover electric vehicle it will be producing in Sunderland.

It issued concept images of what is currently dubbed the Nissan Chill-Out – although that will not be its real name – calling it a “mobile haven”.

Mr Gupta said: “Expressing its breath-taking acceleration and feeling of control, this new generation EV represents the shape of things to come.

“Sleek design, energising driving, advanced safety technologies and a productive and comfortable interior space.”

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