Nissan has vowed to go all-electric in the UK and Europe by 2030 as the car giant’s chief executive said “the world needs to move on” from petrol vehicles.
Its commitment to the 2030 deadline comes despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week pushing back a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars to 2035.
Makoto Uchida reiterated Nissan’s EV timeframe at an announcement in London on Monday, where he unveiled the Japanese manufacturer’s latest battery-powered car design.
Nissan employs more than 7,000 staff across the UK at three sites, including its flagship factory in Sunderland, which accounts for 6,000 employees.
Mr Uchida said: “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.
“More than a million customers have already joined our journey and experienced the fun of a Nissan electric vehicle, and there is no turning back now.”
However, he urged the Government to engage in further discussions with Nissan, as it strives to be “further invested in this country”.
Mr Uchida added: “We are committed to EVs and we have been from the start. We are at the tipping point of consumer adoption for EVs. The world needs to move on from internal combustion engines.
“When it comes to the planet, we have a responsibility to be a part of the solution as part of an ecosystem involving renewables, grid integration and battery storage.”
Downing Street’s decision to push back the petrol car ban from 2030 sparked a backlash from large parts of the automotive industry, as companies raised concerns over the consistency of government policy.
Ford UK chairman Lisa Brankin warned that dropping the 2030 deadline would threaten future investment in the UK.
She said: “Our business needs three things from the UK government: ambition, commitment and consistency. A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three.”
Mr Sunak delayed the deadline last Wednesday as part of a broader scaling back of environmental policies, as he sought to spare households the “unacceptable costs” of net zero.
In a speech, the Prime Minister said it would give Britain “more time to prepare”. He added: “It should be you the consumer that makes that choice, not Government forcing you to do it.
“The upfront cost [of electric cars] is still high – especially for families struggling with the cost of living.”
Over time, the price of electric vehicles is anticipated to come down, and Mr Sunak said he expected the majority of car sales to be for electric vehicles by the end of the decade.
The Government maintained its overall target of hitting net zero by 2050.
However, the reversal from Mr Sunak followed years of investment from carmakers to meet the 2030 goal.
Former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in 2020 that phasing out of petrol and diesel cars “would create 40,000 extra jobs” in Britain while reducing emissions “equivalent to taking more than 4m cars off the road”.
Despite Nissan’s plan to go all-electric in the UK and EU by 2030, Guillaume Cartier, a senior company executive, said on Monday that its Sunderland plant could still produce petrol engines beyond that date to sell cars “outside of Europe”.
He said: “You have parts of the world that are electrifying [but] not at the same rate. We can build some engines in the UK to go outside of Europe, even beyond the timeline that we have.”
Britain’s EV production was recently boosted by a surge in investment, fuelled in part by government subsidies.
Earlier this month, BMW-owned Mini announced a £600m deal to convert its factory in Oxford to all-electric by 2030, with the company reportedly receiving a £75m taxpayer subsidy.
Jaguar Land Rover is also building a £4bn EV factory after it received £500m in government funding.
Similarly, Nissan and Tata have announced plans to invest billions into huge battery manufacturing plants.
In separate comments from May, the Nissan boss raised concerns over the threat posed by China’s EV market, which has “moved much, much faster than we expected”.