Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) owner, Tata Group, has pledged to build an electric vehicle (EV) battery gigafactory in Bridgwater, Somerset.
The news is a welcome boost for the EV battery industry. The JLR plant is the second confirmed gigafactory in the UK after Nissan supplier Envision’s gigafactory in Sunderland. Britishvolt went out of business and their project to build such a plant in Blyth floundered.
The Bridgwater gigafactory project is expected to cost around £4billion with UK Government grants totalling £500million tempting JLR away from an alternative site in Spain. The UK taxpayer money will also contribute to upgrades in local infrastructure to benefit the plant.
Britain’s second EV battery plant is a step in the right direction as a total of five such gigafactories are expected to be needed if the UK electric vehicle industry is to be self-sufficient. Already there are over 30 battery plants under construction or being planed for Europe; France has three and Germany has nine gigafactories.
The world’s largest producer of EV batteries is of course China, creating an estimated 78% of global output.
JLR’s Bridgwater EV battery factory is expected to produce 40 gigawatt hours (GWh) of EV batteries every year, enough to power hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles. Envision’s Nissan plant is ramping up to produce 38GWh and the UK car industry is expected to require 100GWh of batteries by 2030 when the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles has been scheduled to end. Although this date is now in dispute as the Government looks to review its stance on traffic schemes after concerns over the ULEZ expansion.
Of course, electric cars are just one use case for batteries as commercial vehicles, aircraft and even household and industrial applications will are expected to require further battery technology.
As well as the required electrical output, the JLR factory is anticipated to create 4,000 jobs. Many will be at the Bridgewater factory itself, but it will also create and secure additional workforce in the supply chain.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, Mike Hawes, described the gigafactory pledge as:
“a shot in the arm for the UK automotive industry, our economy and British manufacturing jobs.”
“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.”
Further announcements on the project are due with calls from the Unite trade union for the plant to use UK-made steel to further protect British jobs.