Planned UK gigafactory courted by Asian battery makers

Talks progress on possible partner for permitted site

Planned UK gigafactory courted by Asian battery makers
The facility is in the heart of the West Midlands automotive cluster

The UK’s West Midlands Gigafactory joint venture (JV) is in “advanced discussions” with several leading Asian battery manufacturers about future investment at its site in Coventry. It is the only UK site with planning permission in place for a large-scale battery production facility — with capacity for up to 60GWh/yr, as well as being located next to UK OEM JLR’s global headquarters.

“The West Midlands Gigafactory site in Coventry is a prime location offering future investors an all-in-one solution for battery manufacturing, research, industrialisation and recycling. In addition, we are well-positioned to become an investment zone, which will deliver significant additional tax incentives and breaks for future investors,” says Coventry city councillor Jim O’Boyle.

“I am pleased to report that we are now in advanced discussions with leading Asian battery manufacturers who want to develop a presence in the UK. We hope, with the support of the UK government, that we will secure an investor and further strengthen our region’s leadership credentials in the shift towards electrification.”

The project aims to go into initial production from 2025. But it will be the end of the decade before it can ramp up to its ultimate 60GWh/yr capacity. Currently, it is a public-private JV between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport.

Regional ecosystem

The UK government has established a West Midlands Investment Zone, into which the project falls. According to the JV, an “unprecedented regional incentives package” will be available to an ultimate investor, including favourable local taxation conditions and access to clean, sustainable power.

The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), a £130mn ($159mn) part of the UK Government’s Faraday Battery Challenge, is also based in Coventry and would be adjacent to the new gigafactory (see main image). UKBIC aims to provide a missing link between battery technology that has proven promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production. It “welcomes manufacturers, entrepreneurs, researchers and educators, and can be accessed by any organisation with existing or new battery technology — if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK”.

The UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre, a non-profit organisation that facilitates funding to UK-based research and development projects developing net-zero emission technologies, is again based at Coventry’s University of Warwick. And OEM Jaguar Land Rover has ten sites in the area, including its Castle Bromwich EV manufacturing facility, its Wolverhampton electric powertrain manufacturing facility, its Hams Hall battery assembly plant, its National Automotive Innovation Centre at Warwick, its advanced propulsion development unit at Whitley, its Leamington Spa learning academy and its engineering and design headquarters at Gaydon.

Luxury OEM Aston Martin and China’s Changan Automotive base their UK operations in the West Midlands, while some 14.5pc of the country’s parts and accessories manufacturers are also situated in the region

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