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UK to get EV battery gigafactory

JLR’s owner, Tata Group, is to build a gigafactory in the UK to manufacture batteries for electric cars. It has long been identified that the UK needs a gigafactory in order to support increased volumes of electric car production, so this is very welcome news.

The gigafactory is expected to create 4,000 jobs, with many more in the supply chain, with production due to start in 2026. Despite reports in the media to the contrary, the location is still to be 100% confirmed.

The batteries will be used in JLR vehicles for its brands of Range Rover, Defender, Discovery and Jaguar. It is also expected that batteries will be supplied to other vehicle manufacturers. Battery gigafactories need to be located near to EV manufacturing sites, because batteries are heavy items, and transporting them over long distances is not sustainable (as well as being costly).

Tata Group is to invest £4 billion in the gigafactory. The UK government has offered Tata financial incentives – thought to be around £500 million – to secure investment in this country rather than Spain. This amount of incentive is actually relatively small compared to the support that is being injecting into electric car and battery production by other governments around the world – such as in America, Europe, China and South Korea. To put the UK’s gigafactory into perspective, Europe currently has 35 battery plants either open, under construction or planned – so the UK needs to catch up with electric vehicle and battery production.

The UK currently has one battery production site next to the Nissan factory in Sunderland, with a second facility being built – but even this new plant will only have an annual capacity of 12GWh compared to JLR’s factory which will have a capacity of 40GWh.

Britishvolt was due to build a factory in the North East, but the company went into administration earlier this year.