The UK government has discussed building a gigafactory electric vehicle battery plant with six manufacturers as part of an effort to improve the outlook for the UK auto industry.
It is understood that the American automaker Ford and the South Korean electronics giants LG and Samsung were among the companies that were discussed at an early stage with the government or local authorities.
They add to the discussion of the investment potential of Japanese automaker Nissan and the efforts of two small startups, InoBat and Britishvolt. The meeting was first reported by the Financial Times.
Politicians, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and auto industry insiders, hope the UK can protect jobs in the sector by securing private sector investment in the gigafactory, which Tesla president Elon Musk dreamed of for the mega batteries. factory.
The UK will lose 100,000 jobs without gigafactories as automakers switch away from gasoline and diesel vehicles, which make up the majority of UK car production, according to estimates from the government-backed Faraday Institution.
It has been difficult to attract investment so far. Britishvolt is the only company to have publicized plans to build a UK battery plant in Blyth, Northumberland, but it will need to secure enough funding to build the plant and find customers.
The selected Britishvolt site is close to the Nissans Sunderland plant, which already produces batteries for Leaf electric vehicles. Nissan has discussed plans to quadruple production by 2024.
Government sources have warned that some negotiations on the possibility of an investment are still in the early stages.
Ford is considering a battery supplier for its new Transit Custom van model. The company stopped producing cars in the UK in 2001, but it produces engines for Transits at its Dagenham plant and ships them to Turkey.
One option under consideration is to replicate its relationship with batteries, the Financial Times reported. Exports from Dagenham may benefit from the site included in the Free Port of Thames, which offers a range of tax benefits to the companies it invests in.
A Ford spokesperson said the decision on battery supply would be closer to the launch of the new model in 2023.
Another competitor to the UK battery site is the West Midlands, which has traditionally been a center for British automobile manufacturing. Coventry-based JLR, owned by Indias Tata, has yet to disclose long-term battery sourcing plans.
InoBat Auto is said to be talking about a site at Coventry airport that the West Midlands Combined Authority has secured pre-planning permits for.
LG and Samsung approached for comment. InoBat declined to comment.
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