If electric cars are the future of the automotive industry, so are gigafactories – the places where EV batteries are made. The UK’s now getting its first gigafactory in Wales…
Britain’s First Gigafactory
Not too long ago, Tesla announced that it’d be building its first European gigafactory in Berlin. According to its CEO, Elon Musk, Britain didn’t make the grade due to uncertainties surrounding Brexit. Naturally, commentators of every description voiced their displeasure at the opportunities the country had lost out on. But all’s not lost. Britishvolt, a start-up battery manufacturer, has announced plans to create the country’s first gigafactory at the former RAF base of Bro Tathan, Wales. Even more impressively, it’ll be working with the Italian car design firm Pininfarina in launching the state-of-the-art facility.
The factory will cover 2.7-million-square-feet and is planned to have an annual production capacity of 35GWh. For perspective, that’d put it on equal ground with Tesla’s facility in Nevada. Britishvolt is pulling no punches in describing its ambitions. It wants to become a global leader in lithium ion battery production. Of the plant, it’s said it will “become one of the largest industrial investments in British history”. The Italian design house Pininfarina will also be working on the project. A spokesman from Britishvolt said its “revolutionary designs will ensure that Britishvolt’s gigaplant is both fit for purpose, and an elegant representation of the future of the UK’s automotive industry”.
Orral Nadjari, Britishvolt’s CEO, commented on the future plant. He said, “Britishvolt’s aim to become the world’s first zero-carbon battery manufacturer aligns perfectly with Pininfarina’s expertise in creating green, high-tech and innovative environments. With carefully selected sustainable materials that take into account the entire building’s lifecycle, Pininfarina’s appreciation of social impact is what drew us to this partnership.”
The Future Of Britain’s Car Industry
Ralf Speth, the former chief of Jaguar Land Rover, has spoken frankly about the future of Britain’s car industry. He said, “if batteries go out of the UK, then automotive production will go out of the UK”. Unsurprisingly, then, the government (and the opposition) has been vocal about investing in gigafactories. Electric cars, after all, are a vital component in realising carbon neutrality by 2050.
The news will be particularly well-received by the Welsh government. The country’s recent history with the automotive industry has been a roller coaster. Ford’s Bridgend plant, which produces engines for export, will be closing in September; causing some 1,700 people to lose their jobs. Ineos Automotive, Jim Ratcliffe’s latest project, was meant to produce its upcoming off-road Grenadier model in the country. Recently, however, the company has suggested it’s now eyeing-up France instead. Conversely, Aston Martin will be producing the DBX SUV in St Athan. The model is arguably the company’s most important model yet. Throw the country’s first gigafactory into the mix and you’ve got a real drama.
Regardless, Britishvolt’s plans are probably some of the best news the automotive industry has had in the UK for some time. Let’s hope the company’s ambitions don’t prove to be too great…
Mitsubishi Is Exiting British And European Markets – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/mitsubishi-is-exiting-british-and-european-markets/
Ineos Automotive Considers Abandoning Welsh Factory Plans – https://www.autoservefleet.co.uk/latest-news/ineos-automotive-considers-abandoning-welsh-factory-plans/