Mayor of West Midlands calls for EV battery gigafactory

The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has called for an electric vehicles (EV) battery ‘gigafactory’ to be built in the region.

Writing in the website ConservativeHome, Mr Street said the would put the region at the forefront of the EV ‘revolution.’

The West Midlands is already one of the UK’s main regions for car-building, and Street said that if the UK manufactured its own electric batteries it could become a ‘world leader’ in EV production.

‘The West Midlands needs a world-class “gigafactory” capable of producing the batteries required to power our next generation vehicles,’ Street wrote.

‘Battery manufacture is vital to the success of electric transport, as 40% of a vehicle’s value lies in this crucial component.

‘Batteries also form the heaviest part of the vehicle, meaning their production needs to be near the car’s assembly lines.

‘Not surprisingly, battery development is where real innovation is being driven, and where our universities give us a real advantage,’ he added.

The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said the government should build on the West Midlands’ growing  EV infrastructure such as Coventry’s new UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).

The mayor’s comments came days after the UK government gave Jaguar Land Rover a £500m loan guarantee to encourage it to build electric vehicles in the country.

Earlier this month Jaguar Land Rover announced that it would begin building electric vehicles at its manufacturing plant in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, securing 2,700 jobs.

The government has already stated its aims to build a gigafactory in the UK after announcing it would spend a further £28m on a national electric vehicle (EV) battery ‘centre of excellence’ in Coventry, bringing its total investment in the centre up to £108m.

The government said the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) will provide ‘world-leading’ testing facilities for new battery technologies, and will act as a stepping stone towards an eventual gigafactory.

Street added that building on these current EV projects in the West Midlands could be the key to attracting investment to help build the gigafactory.

‘Government has already played an important role in helping make the West Midlands competitive in [electric battery development], investing £108m in a state-of-the-art Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry, and creating the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles,’ Street added.

‘Now government incentives could attract a global firm to create this much-needed gigafactory.’

Street’s comments echo previous comments by experts which have urged the UK’s government to expand the country’s EV manufacturing industry.

Oxford University academics recently warned that the UK must commit to building EV battery gigafactories quickly or risk falling behind the rest of the world.

Their report, commissioned by the Faraday Institution, said the EV industry could add almost a quarter of a million jobs to the UK’s economy by 2040 if the gigafactories are constructed.

Photo Credit – UKBIC