Are you watching, Musk? UK to build £200m gigafactory to supply Lotus and Aston Martin

West Midlands Gigafactory give a CGI preview of factory plans

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Battery cell makers Britishvolt have partnered up with real estate operator Prologis to set up the new battery cell scale-up facility (gigafactory), in the West Midlands. The Ham Hall site will create new cell formats and formulations to help make higher performance, production-ready, cheaper batteries for EVs. This will let the company ramp up the manufacturing of battery cells at larger volumes at its Cambois Gigaplant in Northumberland, which should begin operating in 2024.

Memorandum of Understandings have already been signed to supply Lotus Cars and Aston Martin Lagonda.

Paul Franklin, Property Director, Britishvolt: “This is another important milestone for Britishvolt, UK plc and its world-class automotive industry.

“The UK’s battery ecosystem is a global leader in integrated technology
development and industrialisation with the Warwick Manufacturing Group, Faraday Institution, UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

“I am delighted to see Britishvolt lead the UK’s journey into re-industrialisation with the first full-scale battery Gigaplant.

“The new scale-up facilities announced today will help the UK build on its home-grown battery intellectual property and level up the country ready for the energy transition.”

This comes after Tesla CEO Elon Musk chose Germany over the UK to set up a gigafactory.

He is thought to have picked Germany over the UK due to Brexit as he has said the uncertainty over the UK’s decision to leave the EU “made it too risky” to set up a new factory in Britain.

He may also have been concerned that the UK would no longer have direct access to the EU market.

Although it has now opened, his Tesla plant in Berlin was hit with a wave of delays as red tape in Germany meant the approval process got held up by regional and national agencies

Now, the Tesla boss could be kicking himself when he sees the thriving EV landscape developing in Britain.

According to James Morris, a technology expert and editor of WhichEV, Mr Musk has “definitely been considering” setting up a gigaplant in the UK.

Speculation about the tech baron’s potential UK venture has been rife since he touched down at Luton airport in May last year.

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Around the same point as Mr Musk’s visit, the Government’s new Office for Investment called on regional agencies to urgently submit potential locations covering 250 hectares for a new car factory.

One regional authority reportedly said there was only 48 hours to submit a proposal for space.

They added that there is normally far more time and engagement with a potential investor, hinting that it was keen for Mr Musk to make a bid.

Tesla has also reportedly bolstered its lobbying efforts after hiring a new UK head of public policy and business development.

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