Monday, October 3, 2022

Report casts doubt on Cov gigafactory without customer like JLR

A new report has cast doubt on the viability of plans to build a giant gigafactory at Coventry Airport without a major carmaker – such as Jaguar Land Rover – onboard. The ambitious plan could be “little more than hot air” without a major client, said the report, compiled by academics from Birmingham City University.

Plans were first unveiled a year ago to build a gigafactory to manufacture batteries for electric cars at Coventry Airport. Since then the proposal – a joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport owners Rigby Group – has been given framework planning approval by both Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council.

Coventry carmaker Jaguar Land Rover is not officially involved in the Gigafactory plan, but it is generally understood that the facility will primarily serve Jaguar Land Rover as it continues to transition from internal combustion engines to electric power. . However, recently reports surfaced that Jaguar was in discussions with Land Rover Envision to supply its electric vehicle batteries from a factory that would likely be located in the northeast.

Read more:What are Gigafactories and why do we need them?

New research from academics at Birmingham City University shows proposals to open the UK’s largest electric vehicle battery production facility have been described as a ‘marked gap’ in the national supply chain. The report is based on research funded by the British Academy and led by Professor Alex de Reuter, economist and regional automotive industry expert, with colleagues from the UK and Australia.

It assesses the capacity of supplier firms and the attitudes of automotive workers in the transition to manufacturing electric vehicles.

Professor de Reuter said: “The current frenzy for gigafactories in the UK obscures the fact that it is the automakers who will determine which aspects of electric vehicle production they will operate in the UK, and from where they will supply components. We have seen evidence of this from the recent discussions between Jaguar Land Rover and Envision to potentially supply Jaguar Land Rover with batteries manufactured in the northeast.

Although the Coventry Gigafactory has received widespread support from local officials and parliamentarians from across the region – and is being backed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street – no investors have yet been secured for the massive infrastructure project. Professor de Reuter said it can only be successful if it has a major client, or “anchor client”, and warned that without it it is “little more than hot air”.

CGI of the plans for the West Midlands Gigafactory at Coventry Airport
CGI of the plans for the West Midlands Gigafactory at Coventry Airport

He added: “The current discussion of setting up a Gigafactory in Coventry does not address the identified problems in achieving as much value-added as possible in the West Midlands or the wider UK, as well as the need for an anchor client, ie a major vehicle Company, for the Coventry site. Without concerted action at the national and regional levels – and the timing is urgent – ​​such a thing is little more than hot air.”

Professor de Reuter said: “If cells are to be produced at the UK Gigafactory, it will in all likelihood need to be followed by a UK government ‘deal’ on a lower tariff for electricity. This is because the amount consumed in the production of the battery 2/3 of the embedded energy is in the cell production stage and clearly the UK is currently struggling with uncompetitive energy prices.

“Helping existing supply chain firms in the region to assess what they need to do to re-orient themselves toward a new EV or zero-carbon economy.”

The Birmingham City University report – Enabling an Equitable Transition in Automotive: Evidence from the West Midlands and South Australia – will be released on Friday 29 April at a launch event held at the university.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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