Car giant Nissan is reportedly in advanced talks to build a huge electric car battery plant in the UK.
The Japanese company would not confirm a Financial Times story about the plans for a gigafactory, but pointed to its Sunderland plant’s crucial role in producing electric vehicles.
The FT said Nissan wants the UK to be its main electric hub outside Japan.
Government sources confirmed to the BBC there had been talks, but stressed that any decisions were a long way off.
They also said ministers had talked to “lots of other parties” about boosting battery capacity for electric carmaking and had vowed to complete at least one gigafactory during this Parliament.
It is likely that Nissan is exploring possible state subsidies to help finance building the plant.
The FT said that the factory, which would be built on the existing Sunderland site, would produce 200,000 batteries a year and support thousands of jobs.
Electric car sales are expected to soar in the next few years as the UK gets ready to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
The measure is part of a 10-point “green industrial revolution” plan announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in November last year.
In a statement, Nissan said: “Having established EV [electric vehicle] and battery production in the UK in 2013 for the Nissan Leaf, our Sunderland plant has played a pioneering role in developing the electric vehicle market.
“As previously announced, we will continue to electrify our line-up as part of our global journey towards carbon neutrality. However, we have no further plans to announce at this time.”
Last week, reports that Tesla boss Elon Musk had visited the UK sparked speculation that the billionaire was looking for a site to build his own gigafactory.
And last month, start-up Britishvolt said it had bought the site of the former Blyth Power Station in Northumberland with the intention of turning it into a gigafactory.
Britishvolt, which hopes to be producing enough batteries for 300,000 electric cars a year by 2027, said it was “encouraged” by reports of potential further gigafactory investments in the UK.
“It is also positive to understand that the UK government is taking battery production seriously, on the road map to net zero, and are backing this up by providing funding in line with that provided in the EU for its battery industry development,” the company said.
Plans are also under way to build a gigafactory in Coventry, next to the city’s airport.
A joint venture by the airport and the city council is seeking to raise £2bn for the project, working with local carmakers and battery suppliers to secure the investment.