The Anonymous Widower

The Complex Web At Sunderland

This article on the BBC is entitled Nissan Announces Major UK Electric Car Expansion.

This is the first few paragraphs.

Nissan has announced a major expansion of electric vehicle production at its car plant in Sunderland which will create 1,650 new jobs.

The Japanese carmaker will build its new-generation all-electric model at the site as part of a £1bn investment that will also support thousands of jobs in the supply chain.

And Nissan’s partner, Envision AESC, will build an electric battery plant.

I think there is more to this than meets the eye!

We wait several years for a battery gigafactory to come along and then two come along in a month or two; Blyth and Sunderland. On television today, a BBC reporter talked of eight possible battery gigafactories in the UK.

Lithium Supply

Where do they all think the lithium will come from, as some say there’s a world-wide shortage?

The only explanation, is that the UK government and the gigafactory owners have bought into a secure source of lithium, that is convenient for or easily transported to the North-East.

I am very suspicious that Cornish Lithium or British Lithium have found something bigger than anybody expected.

The numbers don’t add up otherwise!

Lithium Refining

On the other hand, it appears that lithium needs a lot of electricity to extract the metal from the ores, as electrolysis is used.

But with all the windpower being developed off the North-East Coast, there could be more than enough to refine the lithium.

Remember too, that lithium has applications in defence and aerospace applications, when alloyed with magnesium and aluminium.

So could a substantial lithium refining capability be built in the North-East?

The Chinese View

In The Times, Lei Zhang, who is chief executive of Envision also said he liked our masses of offshore wind power, so perhaps the Chinese want to produce green batteries in Sunderland after refining the lithium in the North-East?


We probably need battery-electric cars built from green steel, fitted with green batteries and charged with green electricity.

Is the Gigawatts of offshore wind electricity in the North-East luring the battery and car makes to the area.

Could we also see green steel manufacturing on Teesside?


July 1, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , ,


  1. The automotive industry is not known for its acuity.

    I suspect that much of the investment in electrical technology will, in future years, be regretted.

    At the moment, the emerging Hydrogen tech is greener, more usable, and far closer to what users need.

    History will label the rash of gigaplant projects “brave decisions”, at best.

    Some years ago, I was at Le Mans with Audi. All the VAG and Porsche management were there. I warned the assembled directors and executives that they would live to regret their decision to “bet the farm” on diesel passenger cars; one of those present was a charming chap – Dr Martin Winterkorn, – I bet he regrets his decision.

    I can’t help but wonder how the Nissan electric bet will work out.

    Comment by John Robin St.Clair | July 1, 2021 | Reply

  2. Diesel was a blind alley driven by politicians like Gordon Brown to make voters more likely to vote for them! Risk was not Brown’s strong suit!

    I live not far from the Balls Pond Road, which is one of the most polluted roads in London and hydrogen can’t come to soon.

    But take a London New Routemaster bus, which is a hybrid fitted with a Cummins 4.5 litre diesel and an 18 kWh battery.

    I have a feeling, with the loss of a few seats, these buses could be converted into quality hydrogen buses.

    If you look at Wright’s new Hydrogen bus, it still has a battery, which is charged by the fuel-cell. It also has regenerative braking to the battery.

    Hydrogen is better but a hydrogen bus, train or car still has a battery, to make efficient use of the hydrogen power. They’re only hybrids like a Toyota Prius.

    I notice that BMW and JLR are testing a hydrogen powered car.

    Comment by AnonW | July 1, 2021 | Reply

    • I have driven an early BMW H2 prototype; I was impressed.

      I am condemned to five weeks of being driven up and down to London in a Honda (electric) Hybrid. This is shear hell, it has low roll-resistant tyres (noisy), adaptive cruise control (not designed for the M25), Lane Assist (dangerously jerky in operation), and I have to sit in the back behind a front seat head rest that kills any view of the road.

      If I was being driven up and down in a Porsche Taycan, it would be a pleasure, the Honda hybrid is appalling beyond imagination.

      Comment by John Robin St.Clair | July 1, 2021 | Reply

      • The only electric car, I’ve been driven in is an LEVC Taxi. And I haven’t driven myself since 2010.

        But I have been on two prototype battery trains and both were church-mouse quiet,

        The Class 379 BEMU was even quieter than a normal train. Pantographs?

        I have been on a hydrogen train, but electrical multiple units with batteries will likely be better.

        1. Batteries fit neatly under a train.

        2. Hydrogen tanks seem to reduce the passenger capacity.

        3. Batteries are easily charged, when running on electrified lines.

        3. Fast chargers are being developed.

        On the other hand, we could see powerful hydrogen powered locomotives for freight,

        Comment by AnonW | July 1, 2021

  3. I usually commute on one of the Javelins. It is quiet, but, unless one has a seat at a permanent table, feels uncomfortably cramped. By comparison, DB’s ICE trains are far preferable and their Hauptbahnhof lounges are equally superior.
    I look forward to trying one of London’s new Hydrogen powered busses.

    Comment by John Robin St.Clair | July 1, 2021 | Reply

  4. all trains need lots of tables!

    The first hydrogen buses are number 7s,and run between Oxford Circus and East Acton. The stop at Oxford Circus is on the North West corner of the Circus.

    Comment by AnonW | July 1, 2021 | Reply

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