Nissan has announced plans to create 400 jobs at its car plant in Sunderland, weeks after promising to invest £1bn in the site.
The Japanese firm, which overtook Jaguar Land Rover to become the UK’s largest carmaker during 2020, said it was looking for staff to build a new electric vehicle as well as models including the Juke, Qashqai and the electric Leaf.
In a move latched on to by government ministers as a renewed vote of confidence in Britain after Brexit, the company said hiring more staff would help it to prepare the Sunderland plant for electric vehicle production.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said: “Not only are Nissan staying put, they are doubling down.”
The development forms part of plans to create 6,000 new jobs in Sunderland at Nissan and among its suppliers, under a blueprint announced by the company earlier this month as it invests £1bn to develop an electric vehicle manufacturing hub.
The plans, collectively known as EV36Zero, include a “gigafactory” electric battery plant built by Nissan’s partner Envision, a battery recycling facility and the production of a new all-electric car model.
The investment has been underpinned by the promise of £100m in state funding.
The government has latched on to Nissan’s investment in the UK as a sign of the prospects for attracting investment in Britain after Brexit. The Japanese carmaker had repeatedly warned that the future of its Sunderland site would be at risk if Britain left the EU without a deal.
Instead, Nissan has announced a number of UK investments since the Brexit arrangements became clear, including a £400m spend on building the new Qashqai.
Reflecting the importance of the plant to the company and the British economy, the firm overtook JLR as the nation’s biggest vehicle manufacturer last year despite the biggest drop in car production since 1984 during the first wave of Covid-19.
Nissan’s investment in Sunderland is heavily geared towards electric vehicles, which have become the focus of hopes for the British auto sector.
Ford and the Korean electronics conglomerates LG and Samsung are among the companies that have also had early-stage discussions with the government or local authorities about building gigafactories.
The battery firm Britishvolt is aiming to be the first company to open one in the UK, at a converted coal power station in Blyth, Northumberland, after having its plans approved.
In May, the energy regulator Ofgem approved a £300m investment spree to help triple the number of ultra-rapid electric car charge points across the country, as part of efforts to accelerate the UK’s shift to clean energy.
Alan Johnson, the vice-president of Nissan motor manufacturing UK, said: “This is a real vote of confidence in Sunderland from our parent company in Japan and will really reaffirm Sunderland’s reputation as a world-class manufacturer.”