£4bn JLR battery gigafactory confirmed for Somerset | CAR Magazine

£4bn JLR battery gigafactory confirmed for Somerset

Published: 19 July 2023 Updated: 19 July 2023

► £4bn JLR battery gigafactory confirmed
► Somerset UK location beats EU rivals
► Second major EV battery facility for UK

JLR today confirmed plans to build a major battery gigafactory in Somerset, as parent company Tata invests deeply to fund the supply of batteries it needs for its upcoming generation of electric cars.

The parent company of Jaguar and Land Rover is investing around £4 billion in the gigafactory, which will eventually have capacity of 40GWh, making it one of the largest battery facilities in Europe.

The JLR battery gigafactory will enable the company to accelerate the switchover from combustion SUVs and limos to electric ones in the latter half of the decade, as part of its Reimagine electrification strategy. Production at the site in Bridgwater, Somerset is scheduled to begin in 2026.

Chairman of Tata N Chandrasekaran said: ‘Our multibillion-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.’

It’s a major investment by Tata and the deal includes unspecified government grants and support, put at around £500 million by some sources. The Conservatives have been lambasted for a lack of a coherent strategy around electrification and ministers will be hoping that today’s news will provide new hope for a sector that’s struggled in the wake of Brexit and Covid supply-chain problems.

Jaguar i-Pace battery

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: ‘With the global transition to zero-emission vehicles well underway, this will help grow our economy by driving forward our lead in battery technology whilst creating as many as 4000 jobs, and thousands more in the supply chain.’

Read more about electric Jaguar plans here.

JLR battery gigafactory in Somerset: why it’s significant

To date, the UK automotive sector has only one gigafactory of any scale – the facility next to Nissan’s Sunderland factory. This compares with 35 gigafactories operational, under construction or planned in Europe. A second gigafactory planned for the North East by Britishvolt crashed into administration earlier this year.

The boss of the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Ian Constance, said: ‘By 2030 the UK will need over 89GWh per annum of batteries for cars and light commercials alone and represents over 11% of the total demand across Europe.  The UK offers an extremely competitive landscape for investment in the full research, development, and manufacturing ecosystem for electric vehicle technologies and this has been recognised by Tata.’

Confirmation that JLR will invest deeply in the South West comes as huge relief to the UK automotive sector. The company plans to sell batteries to other companies, once it is fully operational.

Lithium-ion and next-gen batteries will power future JLR products

JLR’s gigafactory will be built at the Gravity Smart Campus near Bridgwater in Somerset – a site being marketed as a high-tech location for green economy advanced manufacturing.

Tata had been considering a rival site in Spain for the JLR battery gigafactory, but the government package of grants, R&D funding incentives and discounted energy costs are understood to have swung the argument back in favour of the UK.

Former Nissan engineering chief and Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, who now works at EV charging firm Pod Point, told the BBC: ‘Support must come in all shapes and sizes for businesses of all shapes and sizes. One gigafactory doesn’t equal success, it equals part of the puzzle.’

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words