December 10, 2023

Nissan has vowed to “press ahead” with a plan to only sell electric vehicles in Europe by 2030 despite Rishi Sunak’s delay to the UK ban on new petrol and diesel car sales.

The Japanese carmaker said all new models in Europe will be entirely electric by the end of the decade, as it launched a new EV design in London.

Sunak sparked anger among green campaigners, MPs and sections of the car industry last week when he announced a U-turn on a string of climate-related policies, including delaying a planned ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans by five years from 2030 to 2035.

Carmakers have already spent billions shifting their models and supply chains towards electric cars, and the ban could disrupt their plans for phasing out petrol and diesel cars. However, Nissan said on Monday it was “pressing ahead with plans to achieve 100% EV in Europe by 2030, with all new Nissan models from now to be all-electric in Europe”.

The company’s president and chief executive, Makoto Uchida, said: “There is no turning back now.”

Nissan plans to introduce 19 full-electric and eight hybrid models before 2030. By 2028, it also plans to introduce “cobalt-free” technology to bring down the cost of EV batteries by 65%. The company is also working on a battery that can cut charging times by a third, due to launch in five years’ time.

“EVs powered by renewables are key to us achieving carbon neutrality, which is central to our Ambition 2030 vision. Nissan will make the switch to full electric by 2030 in Europe – we believe it is the right thing to do for our business, our customers and for the planet,” Uchida added.

He was speaking as Nissan launched the Concept 20-23 design in Paddington, London. The sporty, urban design was launched to mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Nissan Design Europe building at the central London site.

Nissan announced plans to spend €40m (£35m) at that building and its nearby Nissan Technical Centre Europe on new staff, technology and upgrading the facilities. It will spend more than €26m solely on electrification projects at the latter site.

The technical centre is host to a study on autonomous driving. The government-backed research aims to develop a self-driving car capable of safely navigating residential, urban and rural spaces. The programme involves the creation of maps and systems that make the vehicle capable of handling a range of different on-the-road scenarios.

MPs and carmakers are pushing to reduce Europe’s reliance on China for critical minerals such as cobalt and lithium, which are crucial in the EV supply chain.

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Carmakers have also called for a delay to post-Brexit tariffs on UK and European car exports in the face of competition from China.

In the UK, the faltering electric car industry had received a boost from the Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata’s £4bn investment pledge for an electric battery plant, likely in Somerset, and BMW’s £600m upgrade of facilities in Oxford to produce the Mini. However, Sunak’s U-turn has threatened to stall this momentum.

Nissan will soon launch two new EVs in Europe – a successor to the “entry-level” Micra, and another vehicle, which will be built at its vast Sunderland plant as part of a £1bn project.

The increased competition from China also provided impetus for Nissan to complete a long-delayed deal to restructure its relationship with Renault earlier this year.

The troubled alliance between the global manufacturers had been a source of tension for decades, and risked collapse after the arrest in Japan of Carlos Ghosn, the former chair of both companies who had been pushing for a full potential merger, on charges of concealing income in 2018.

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