Japan business confidence hits highest level since 2018

The facility will be built next to Nissan’s current factory in Sunderland and should prove integral to the UK’s climate change goals.

Lei Zhang, CEO of Envision Group, said the company was building on its long-term partnership with Nissan “to make high-performance, longer-range batteries for electric vehicles affordable and accessible for millions more motorists.”

He said growth in demand could bring future investment of up to $2.48 million and 4,500 more jobs by 2030.

European expansion

The news comes just days after Nissan’s French partner Renault unveiled plans for an Envision-owned battery factory in France, as global car makers race to meet booming demand for greener transport and governments target net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Japanese auto giant is to spend up to $582 million on Britain’s all-electric EV36Zero project, and Sunderland City Council will help to bring the total amount of investment up to $1.38 billion.

“This is a landmark day for Nissan, our partners, the UK, and the automotive industry as a whole,” said Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta, standing next to a line of newly made Nissan vehicles awaiting their final inspections.

Nissan, which had previously warned that a no-deal Brexit would threaten its 35-year-old Sunderland factory, said the new investment represents 6,200 jobs at the Japanese group and its UK suppliers.

There will be 900 new Nissan jobs and 750 new Envision jobs.

The facility will be built next to Nissan’s current factory in Sunderland and should prove integral to the UK’s climate change goals.

Lei Zhang, CEO of Envision Group, said the company was building on its long-term partnership with Nissan “to make high-performance, longer-range batteries for electric vehicles affordable and accessible for millions more motorists.”

He said growth in demand could bring future investment of up to $2.48 million and 4,500 more jobs by 2030.

European expansion

The news comes just days after Nissan’s French partner Renault unveiled plans for an Envision-owned battery factory in France, as global car makers race to meet booming demand for greener transport and governments target net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Japanese auto giant is to spend up to $582 million on Britain’s all-electric EV36Zero project, and Sunderland City Council will help to bring the total amount of investment up to $1.38 billion.

“This is a landmark day for Nissan, our partners, the UK, and the automotive industry as a whole,” said Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta, standing next to a line of newly made Nissan vehicles awaiting their final inspections.

Nissan, which had previously warned that a no-deal Brexit would threaten its 35-year-old Sunderland factory, said the new investment represents 6,200 jobs at the Japanese group and its UK suppliers.

There will be 900 new Nissan jobs and 750 new Envision jobs.

Confidence among major Japanese manufacturers has hit its highest level since 2018, a key business survey showed Thursday, as they bet on a strong post-pandemic recovery despite some setbacks.

The headline index for big manufacturers’ sentiment jumped to plus 14 from plus five in March, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of improvement, according to the Bank of Japan’s Tankan business survey, a quarterly poll of about 10,000 companies.

The index readings are calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents who say conditions are poor from those who say they are good. A positive reading means optimists outnumber pessimists.

The figure for large manufacturers has improved for four straight quarters, after plunging into negative territory in April 2020 for the first time in seven years.

For medium-sized firms, confidence was up to plus five from minus two, while sentiment for small companies rose to minus seven from minus 13.

Among non-manufacturing firms, it picked up only slightly from minus one to plus one, with spending hit by successive virus measures this year.

“All told, the survey bolsters our view that a weak start to the year will soon give way to a strong recovery,” said Tom Learmouth, Japan economist at Capital Economics, in a note.

“We think GDP will be back at pre-virus levels by the end of this year, and back at its pre-virus path before the end of 2022.”

But others were less optimistic, pointing to the continuing weakness in sentiment among smaller firms and outside the manufacturing sector.

“Even for large manufacturing firms, the forward-looking outlook index was mixed, with large and medium-sized manufacturing firms and small non-manufacturing firms expecting conditions to deteriorate,” wrote Robert Carnell, regional head of research for Asia-Pacific at ING Economics, in a note.

He added that the survey suggested that the best of the recovery in activity from the 2020 COVID-19 hit has passed.

Japan has seen a smaller virus outbreak than many countries, with around 14,750 deaths despite avoiding harsh lockdowns.

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