A significant investment in the UK automotive sector could soon take place as industry news suggests that the boss of Jaguar Land Rover-owner Tata is expected to fly to London next week to finalise a deal to build a multi-billion pound car battery plant in Somerset.
Closure of the deal should take place next week when Tata is scheduled to meet the prime minister, as negotiations have moved from drafting to the choreography of how the agreement will be presented.
The electric vehicle (EV) battery plant would bring over 9000 jobs to the Bridgwater area, which is close to the M5 in Somerset, with the gigafactory to be located at the Gravity business park.
This news confirms that the UK government has acknowledged the urgent need for EV battery manufacturing in the UK to secure the future of the industry, as well as helping to keep pace with plans to end the sales of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030.
“We are delighted that Jaguar Land Rover are building this much needed facility here in the UK,” said Tim Alcock from LeaseElectricCar.co.uk.
“The EU has 35 electric car battery plants open, in construction or in planning stages, and currently the UK is significantly behind in these industrial strategies.
“The UK government acknowledges the urgent need for electric vehicle battery manufacturing in the UK to support the rapid uptake of EVs.
“The building of this facility will help bolster the infrastructure required to allow the industry to grow.”
Industry insiders talking to the BBC hope that the Tata deal will encourage further battery investments in the UK, which currently only has one plant in operation next to Nissan’s Sunderland factory and one in initial planning stages in Northumberland - by contrast, the EU already has 35 plants open, under construction or planned.
"This is really encouraging news as it is essential for the UK's electric vehicle sector to have a UK-based battery production facility if it is to remain a global automotive player," said Ben Lane, co-founder and CTO at Zapmap.
"Not only will this deal expand UK production of electric vehicles, the new plant will also accelerate car exports to the EU, and generate highly skilled jobs in the South West."