UK battles to retain Jaguar Land Rover’s planned electric vehicle production | Automobile industry

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Britain is locked in a battle to retain production of Jaguar Land Rover’s future range of electric vehicles as concerns grow that the UK is falling behind in the race to build electric plants. large-scale vital batteries.

The company, which is owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, said it was continuing to “explore all options” for battery supply amid reports it could build electric cars in Eastern Europe.

Bloomberg reported that JLR was considering buying batteries from Northvolt AB in Sweden or SVOLT Energy Technology in China for a range of electric cars it could assemble in Slovakia.

The company is also in talks with the UK government about funding the construction of a battery factory, or “gigafactory”, to ensure a local source of batteries.

This follows JLR’s commitment last year to make the Jaguar brand all-electric by 2025, as well as a commitment to phase out petrol vehicles altogether over the next decade. There is currently only one pure electric model, the I-Pace, built in Austria.

The company said it would “retain our factory and assembly facilities in the UK market and worldwide” as part of its strategy. “We continue to explore all options around battery supply. No decision has been made yet,” a spokesperson said.

As part of JLR’s switch to electricity, the company – which employs 30,000 people in the UK – has previously said it will retain all of its main factories located in the West Midlands.

The company also has manufacturing sites in Slovakia and Austria and other facilities in Brazil and Asia.

Battery factories are seen as crucial to the future prospects of the UK car industry as it moves away from producing international combustion engine vehicles.

Global battery supply has been dominated by Asian manufacturers – particularly in China, Japan and South Korea – although Europe and the United States have struggled to catch up.

Batteries are by far the most expensive part of an electric vehicle, but so far the development of UK factories has been slow.

China’s Envision is expanding a factory in Sunderland next to Nissan’s car factory, and UK startup Britishvolt has raised funds for a gigafactory near Blyth, Northumberland.

The UK government announced a £100 million investment in Britishvolt earlier this year as part of its automotive transformation fund. He also held talks with six automakers about building gigafactories.

Attracting further investment has proven difficult in recent years, which Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said was not helped by Brexit.

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“Europe is catching up with Asia,” he said. “The uncertainty of Brexit and what was going to happen for five years made the UK very difficult to invest in because by definition you didn’t know what the trading terms would be, so you didn’t know what the longevity would be. viability of manufacturing was going to be.

Unions fear the slow development of battery factories in the UK will move car industry jobs overseas.

Des Quinn, a Unite national manager, said: “The government needs to wake up and smell the coffee to the fact that without new gigafactories and a supply chain for electric vehicles, there will be mass unemployment and damage. economic from 2028.”

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy declined to comment on reports of JLR’s plans, but said he speaks regularly to companies in the sector.

They added: “The UK continues to be one of the best locations in the world for car manufacturing thanks to a major investment program aimed at electrifying our supply chain, creating jobs and ensuring a competitive future for the sector”.

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