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Official: JLR owner confirms it will invest more than £4bn building new gigafactory in Somerset

  • Battery factory for the UK has been confirmed by JLR’s owner
  • Tata Group has chosen Britain over Spain thanks to government funding
  • Experts say the decision is a huge boost to UK automotive manufacturing 
  • PM hails investment as testament to strength of UK’s car industry and its workers
  • Production due to start in 2026
  • It’ll have an initial output of 40GWh

Time 7:04 am, July 19, 2023

Jaguar Land Rover’s owner has chosen Somerset as the location for a new electric vehicle battery ‘gigafactory’ that will create thousands of jobs.

Tata Group confirmed rumours in an announcement at 07:11 this morning that it plans to invest more than £4bn building the new unit to produce electric vehicle batteries.

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, said: ‘The Tata Group is deeply committed to a sustainable future across our business.

‘Today, I am delighted to announce the Tata Group will be setting up one of Europe’s largest battery cell manufacturing facilities in the UK.

‘Our multi-billion-pound investment will bring state-of-the-art technology to the country, 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.

‘I also want to thank His Majesty’s government, which has worked so closely with us to enable this investment.’

The UK government is believed to have pledged millions of pounds to help bring the production plant here rather than Spain, with reports suggesting Tata had asked for up to £500m in support. 

The gigafactory will be located at the Gravity business park, a 616-acre site currently under construction near the M5 near Bridgwater.

Production is due to start in 2026, and the government says that with an initial output of 40GWh it’ll provide nearly half of the battery production that the Faraday Institution estimates the UK will need by 2030, when the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars comes in.

Rishi Sunak said: ‘Tata Group’s multi-billion-pound investment in a new battery factory in the UK is testament to the strength of our car manufacturing industry and its skilled workers.

‘With the global transition to zero-emission vehicles well under way, this will help grow our economy by driving forward our lead in battery technology whilst creating as many as 4,000 jobs, and thousands more in the supply chain.

‘We can be incredibly proud that Britain has been chosen as home to Tata Group’s first gigafactory outside India, securing our place as one of the most attractive places to build electric vehicles.’

Business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch commented: ‘Today’s multi-billion-pound investment demonstrates that this government has got the right plan when it comes to the automotive sector.

‘We are backing the UK car industry to help grow our economy as we transition to electric vehicles, and this latest investment will secure thousands of highly-skilled jobs across the country.’

Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: ‘This is a huge vote of confidence in the UK and one that will drive growth in our economy, creating thousands of jobs and powering our transition to electric cars.

‘Tata Group’s gigafactory builds on the strength of our manufacturing industry and shows we’re on the right track, backing the sectors that will underpin our future prosperity for decades to come.’

Meanwhile, energy security secretary Grant Shapps added: ‘Today’s announcement from Tata is excellent news.

‘We have been working tirelessly with the company, and across government, to make the case for why the UK is the best place for them to invest.

‘This new gigafactory puts us firmly in the fast lane to becoming the capital of Europe’s electric car market, and makes crystal clear how they see the UK as the place to be for their future growth.

‘With thousands of jobs on site and in the supply chain, this new factory will be the cornerstone of our automotive industry, backing manufacturers to develop and expand, and customers to make the switch from petrol and diesel.’

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘This is a shot in the arm for the UK automotive industry, our economy and British manufacturing jobs, demonstrating the country is open for business and electric vehicle production.

‘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.

‘We must now build on this announcement by promoting the UK’s strengths overseas, ensuring we stay competitive amid fierce global pressures and do more to scale up our EV supply chain.’

The investment is believed to be the biggest in the UK automotive industry since Nissan, Toyota and Honda pledged to come to the UK in the 1980s.

Quentin Willson, founder of campaign group FairCharge, said: ‘While this is a very significant development for UK battery manufacturing, I truly hope that other companies in the battery, critical minerals, charging and EV supply chains won’t be neglected.’

Jonathan Reynolds, shadow business secretary, added: ‘Labour welcomes any investment in British jobs and industry, and decisions like these vindicate Labour’s advocacy of an industrial strategy in place of scattergun announcements.

‘In spite of the government’s cack-handed approach to industry and our economy, this shows the strength of the UK automotive industry.’

Labour MP Darren Jones, who chairs the business and trade committee, said the decision is ‘very welcome’, while Greenpeace UK’s senior climate campaigner, Paul Morozzo, said it was ‘a significant moment for the UK car industry’.

He added: ‘This is a signal that the government has finally started the engine in the international clean technology race, while others are speeding ahead.’

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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