Tata Group announces plans for £4bn battery 'gigafactory' in Somerset
Tata Motors which owns Jaguar Land Rover has announced plans to invest £4bn in a battery 'gigafactory' in Somerset, creating 4,000 jobs. The announcement is considered a much-needed boost to future prospects for the UK's automotive industry.
The UK Government is also providing subsidies, reported to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, in the plant which is being described as the most important investment in the UK automotive sector since Nissan arrived in the 1980s.
The BBC reports that the UK currently only has one plant in operation next to Nissan's Sunderland factory, and a potential development in Northumberland. A major planned development in the north east of England, Britishvolt, went into administration earlier this year. Meanwhile, the EU has 35 plants open, under construction or planned.
The planned factory, which will be sited near Bridgwater, will be one of the largest in Europe - with capacity to produce 40GWh of cells annually - and will initially provide batteries for Jaguar Land Rover vehicles but will also supply other car manufacturers. The factory is scheduled to start production in 2026.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that the investment had come at a critical time for the UK. Its Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, said: "This is a shot in the arm for the UK automotive industry, our economy and British manufacturing jobs, demonstrating the country is open for business and electric vehicle production.
"It comes at a critical moment, with the global industry transitioning at pace to electrification, producing batteries in the UK is essential if we are to anchor wider vehicle production here for the long term. We must now build on this announcement by promoting the UK’s strengths overseas, ensuring we stay competitive amid fierce global pressures and do more to scale up our EV supply chain."
Ian Constance, Chief Executive of the Advanced Propulsion Centre said: "This announcement is a major step in putting the UK at the forefront of the global energy transition, unlocking huge private sector investment that will develop the technology and skills required for Britain to play its part in the next industrial revolution."
Suzanna Hinson, battery workstreams lead at the Green Finance Institute (quoted by Fleet News) said that while the investment is an important foundation for building a thriving battery industry in the UK, “further finance must be crowded in to enable the many innovative businesses that will support this ecosystem to scale”.
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