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Charge ahead with ‘EV-olution’ to close gigafactory gap, MPs urge Government

27 November 2023

MPs have emphasised the urgent need for the UK Government to create a more attractive environment for electric vehicle (EV) battery production to combat what they’re calling a “gigafactory gap”.

(Image: Shutterstock)
(Image: Shutterstock)

The report from the cross-party Business and Trade Select Committee indicates that the nation's battery production capacity falls short of future demands. This could jeopardise the automotive industry and put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.

The committee suggests  that leveraging the UK's low-carbon energy sources could position the country as a central hub for refining critical materials like lithium, establishing it as a frontrunner in sustainable and ethical battery production. 

Currently, China dominates global cathode production, representing 78 percent of the world's capacity. This dominance leaves the UK vulnerable if exports of battery materials and components are restricted.

Chair of the Business and Trade Committee, Liam Byrne, highlights the urgency of the situation, “Power was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and it will be at the heart of the green industrial revolution. But right now, the UK is on course to secure barely half of the electric battery capacity needed by the domestic car industry alone.

“Unless we fix this fast, we risk the industry simply relocating to Europe or the US, or becoming reliant on imports from China and elsewhere. That imperils 160,000 jobs and is a jewel in the UK’s industrial crown. Now is the time to act.”

The report also recommends better government support for gigafactory agreements, prioritising them for infrastructure improvements, and boosting domestic critical mineral mining. 

Concerns about the gigafactory gap have been echoed by industry experts and organisations. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders previously warned that the UK must rapidly scale up its EV manufacturing capacity to avoid falling behind international competitors. 

In response to the report, the Government has defended its recent investments in the automotive industry, including a £4 billion gigafactory by Tata Group and £600 million for the development of electric Minis. 

A Department for Business and Trade spokesperson said: “Taken together, these major investments demonstrate that our plan for the automotive industry is working and continuing to deliver results.”

As the UK faces a critical juncture in the transition to electric vehicles, the report calls for swift and decisive action to secure the nation's position in the global EV market, safeguard jobs, and foster a competitive and sustainable battery manufacturing sector. 

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