Coronavirus: Carmakers including Nissan pause EV manufacturing

Carmakers are facing dwindling sales and supply chain issues

Executives at Nissan confirmed earlier this week that the firm’s Sunderland factory – home to one of the UK’s largest EV production lines – would close with immediate effect.

The facility employs more than 6,000 full-time staff and produces the popular, fully electric Nissan Leaf, among other models.

Nissan said in a statement that it had taken the decision to close the factory due to difficulties sourcing parts from China, dwindling sales and health concerns of staff. It has not confirmed how long the closure will continue but pledged to pay all staff in full.

Other carmakers to have unveiled temporary manufacturing plant closures this week include:

  • Vauxhall, which has paused production at Luton and Ellesmere port, including of he new Corsa-E and Grandland X Hybrid.
  • Volkswagen, which has closed production lines at all plants in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Slovakia for two weeks.
  • Toyota, whose Deeside and Burnaston facilities have halted production until further notice.
  • Ford, which this week suspended production in mainland Europe and implemented partial closures in the US. In the US, the move has been taken to enable deep cleans and the exploration of switching production lines to manufacture respirators.

Global slowdown

The announcements come just days after BloombergNEF (BNEF) altered its forecasts for several clean technologies, including solar generation arrays and batteries – both of utility-scale and those used in EVs.

On EV batteries, BNEF believes global demand for the year is likely to fall 4% compared to 2019.

While most of the clean technologies have supply chains in place to account for lost time during the containment phase of the virus, BNEF is concerned about the longer-term impacts of policymakers diverting away from clean energy legislation to focus on “more pressing concerns” health concerns.

The organisation had previously forecast that the global battery market will be worth $116bn (£89bn) annually by 2030 – excluding investment in the supply chain by corporates of governments.

Sarah George

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