JLR forges ahead with plans for UK EV Gigafactory

Image: JLR. Pictured: A hybrid-electric Defender serving Glastonbury festival-goers

Tata Group had previously voiced concerns to the UK Government about the practicalities of hosting the Gigafactory in Britain, due to challenges faced by other car manufacturers such as high energy costs and post-Brexit trade frictions.

But today (19 July), it has officially decided to make the £4bn investment in the 40GW factory in the UK. It is being reported that the Government did provide a “significant” subsidy to get this decision over the line, but a figure has not been provided.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “incredibly proud” that Tata Group will host its first Gigafactory outside of India in the UK.

The Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) factory will be one of the largest electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing sites in Europe. It is hoped that the first batteries will be sold in 2026.

Tata Sons’ chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said: “Our multi-billion-pound investment will bring state-of-the-art technology to the UK, helping to power the automotive sector’s transition to electric mobility, anchored by our own business, JLR.

“With this strategic investment, the Tata group further strengthens its commitment to the UK, alongside our many companies operating here across technology, consumer, hospitality, steel, chemicals and automotive.”

Positive reaction

The UK Government has already been urged several times to set more robust plans for growing the nation’s Gigafactory stock this decade, to avoid relying on imports and therefore missing out on opportunities for green job creation and international battery trade.

These calls to action have only intensified since Britishvolt collapsed into administration. Its new owners look set to focus on larger batteries rather than those for cars. The Business and Trade Committee is overseeing an inquiry into how Government plans for British battery manufacturing can be improved.

In the meantime, today’s news from Tata Group has been widely welcomed.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris said: “After so many false starts, this is fantastic news for the west of England.

“Given the scale of the investment, we have a real opportunity to shape the green jobs revolution, not just here in the west, but nationally and internationally, to ensure these jobs of the future are high quality, well paid and unionised.”

New AutoMotive’s chief executive Ben Nelmes called the decision “a welcome vote of confidence in the UK’s plans to transition to electric vehicles (EVs)”.

Nelmes added: “The government should build on this success and bring forward a strategy for battery manufacturing so that Britain can benefit from new green technologies.”

Related article: UK risks squandering £106bn opportunity, lagging behind with EV manufacturing

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