'Thanks to Brexit, not despite!' Frexit campaigners hail Nissan's Sunderland major boost


    Nissan Motor Co bet on Brexit Britain to supercharge its European electric future on Thursday, pledging £1 billion with its Chinese partner to build a giant battery plant that will power 100,000 vehicles a year including a new crossover model. Celebrating the news, Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois wrote: “Nissan has announced its £1 billion investment in Sunderland, which will create 6,200 industrial jobs.

    “The Nissan spokesperson sees ‘Brexit as an opportunity!’

    “I have always said: from ‘Despite Brexit’ to ‘Thanks to Brexit’

    “Let’s take back control. Frexit.”

    Les Patriotes leader, Florian Philippot, echoed: “Construction of a Nissan ‘giga-factory’ in the United Kingdom creating 6,000 jobs + subcontractors!

    “Remember the anti-Brexit who prophesied disaster!

    “Never listen to them again and choose the #Frexit for France, quickly!”

    Facing the most profound technological shift in a century, the titans of the auto industry are racing to secure battery supply close to the factories where they will make the new cleaner electric vehicles of the future.

    Nissan cast its backing for the 9 gigawatt-hour (GWh) plant as illustrative of a rejuvenation of Britain’s automotive industry which has for five years grappled with the fear that Brexit could cut off the rest of the European market.

    Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer, told reporters: “This project is the demonstration of the renaissance of the British car industry.”

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    Nissan will spend up to £423 million to produce a new-generation all-electric crossover vehicle at the British plant, where it already produces the LEAF electric vehicle and the Qashqai crossover SUV.

    The new vehicle has yet to be named.

    Japanese capital has used Britain as a gateway to Europe since the early 1980s, when then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher persuaded Nissan bosses to build a plant in the Sunderland on an old air force airfield.

    As British automakers withered, Nissan flourished. Mrs Thatcher personally opened the plant in 1986 and was pictured sitting at the wheel of a Nissan Bluebird.

    Japanese investors worried the Brexit vote – which was particularly strong in Sunderland – would scupper their plan, though the worst ravages of a tumultuous no-deal Brexit were avoided.

    The Brexit trade deal agreed with the European Union last year allowed the free trade of cars but with a dangerous twist on rules of origin – at least 40 percent of the value of a car has to be produced in the United Kingdom or EU to be sold in the bloc.

    That requirement rises to 55 percent from 2027 – a crucial detail that would mean an imported battery, which can make up half the vehicle’s showroom sale price, would close off the European market to British-based car factories such as Nissan.

    The new model takes Nissan’s total capital investment in the Sunderland plant past 5 billion pounds.

    Guillaume Cartier, Nissan chairman for Africa, Middle East, India, Europe & Oceania, told Reuters: “This is not one shot, this is not one car, this is the plan and this is for 10 years’ engagement.”

    Nissan’s Sunderland plant was one of the first in Europe to build electric vehicle batteries, though its stake in the joint venture was bought out by Envision AESC.


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