Nissan Motor explores Gigafactory for EVs in India; may make for world market

Japanese automaker Nissan Motor is exploring the manufacturing of electric vehicles in India, including the setting up of a ‘gigafactory’ for the mass production of batteries.

The company had commissioned a study about three months ago, chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta told a group of Indian reporters. The study is likely to be concluded within a year, and if it gives the green flag, then electric vehicles will be made in India for the local as well as global markets, he said.

“India should do the electric car, right from scratch, with localisation of upto100% and for that localisation of batteries is so important. For localisation of EV batteries, we may need a minimum of a gigawatt to set up the battery plant. If we go ahead, India becomes a global hub for EVs,” said Gupta.

The company that launched the Nissan Magnite compact SUV earlier this year is already working on the next set of cars for India, including electrified vehicles, said Gupta.

Nissan Motor’s chairman may visit India in the next six months to announce the company’s new roadmap for the country, he said.

The Japanese company is currently developing a small electric Kie car with its alliance partner Mitsubishi, and it may be a potential option for the Indian market. The company may also explore an electric Van for the booming e-commerce space eventually.

On Thursday, Nissan announced the setting of a new gigawatt factory for batteries at Sunderland in northeast England, along with a microgrid that will supply clean energy to Nissan and its vendor factories in the UK.

The carmaker, along with its partners, plans to invest 1 billion pounds to expand production of electric vehicles and batteries in northeast England. Nissan said it would manufacture a new all-electric crossover sport utility vehicle at its plant in Sunderland, creating more than 6,200 jobs at the factory and its suppliers. It has partnered with Chinese battery maker Envision AESC to build the battery facility.

“We have to look at EV in entirety. The most important is the battery manufacturing, along with battery charging infrastructure and then the source of power,” said Gupta. “Switching to EVs is not a one-day story; it happens over a period of time. There are many challenges of cost of operation, infrastructure and source of energy. India has a great opportunity to address all three things.”

Nissan, which entered India more than a decade ago, has remained on the fringes of the local market with a less than 1-2% share. Its attempt to crack into the mass market with the Datsun brand too has failed. But its recent bet with the Magnite has turned out to be successful, and it has given hopes to the global office to relook at India plans with renewed vigour.

In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2021, Nissan Motor sold just 18,700 cars with a market share of 0.7%. But it has a healthy order book for the Magnite SUV.

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