Tata chooses UK as new gigafactory home

Tata Motors confirmed on Wednesday that it is to invest more than £4 billion in building an electric car battery factory in the UK.

Used Jaguar XJ car for sale outside a Jaguar Land Rover showroom. Jaguar Land Rover Limited is a British multinational automotive company.
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The Indian owners of Jaguar Land Rover said the gigafactory, which will manufacture products associated with technologies around decarbonisation and electrification, would be operational in 2026.Tata's new Somerset facility is one of the largest-ever investments in Britain's automotive industry. It is expected to employ about 4,000 people and create thousands more jobs in the supply chain. The new factory is also expected to be capable of half the battery production the UK needs by 2030.

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Tata had been considering for months whether to build the new plant in the UK or in Spain, but eventually opted for the former after the government in London offered subsidies running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described Tata's decision as an "incredibly proud" moment, adding: "Tata Group's multi-billion-pound investment in a new battery factory in the UK is testament to the strength of our car manufacturing industry and its skilled workers."With the global transition to zero-emission vehicles well underway, this will help grow our economy by driving forward our lead in battery technology whilst creating as many as 4,000 jobs, and thousands more in the supply chain."Tata chairman N Chandrasekaran said that construction of the factory – which will be one of the largest of its kind in Europe – strengthened the firm's commitment to the UK "alongside our many companies operating here across technology, consumer, hospitality, steel, chemicals and automotive".He added: “I also want to thank His Majesty’s Government, which has worked so closely with us to enable this investment.”Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said the government had been working "tirelessly" with Tata to make the case for why the UK was the best place for them to invest."This new gigafactory puts us firmly in the fast lane to becoming the capital of Europe’s electric car market, and makes crystal clear how they see the UK as the place to be for their future growth," he said."With thousands of jobs on-site and in the supply chain, this new factory will be the cornerstone of our automotive industry, backing manufacturers to develop and expand, and customers to make the switch from petrol and diesel."

Decision 'a shot in the arm' for the UK automotive industry

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, described the Tata announcement as "a shot in the arm for the UK automotive industry, our economy and British manufacturing jobs". He said it demonstrated that the UK was open for business and electric vehicle production."It comes at a critical moment, with the global industry transitioning at pace to electrification, producing batteries in the UK is essential if we are to anchor wider vehicle production here for the long term," he added."We must now build on this announcement by promoting the UK’s strengths overseas, ensuring we stay competitive amid fierce global pressures and do more to scale up our EV supply chain."Marc Palmer, head of strategy and insights at Auto Trader, said the improvement in UK battery production capabilities would cement the continuation of Britain’s manufacturing heritage and would provide "a desperately needed stake in the future of the electrified car market – something that’s been pulled into question since the impacts of Brexit have been felt in the automotive industry".He said: “With the market share of electric cars doubling since the beginning of the year, it’s clear EVs will be central to the future of the automotive industry and so it’s vital that Britain is actively engaged in process.”

Leveraging with long-term industrial plan

Sharon Graham, general-secretary of the Unite trade union, also welcomed the announcement, but added: "The US and Europe have clear, proactive plans for jobs and investment. We cannot continually lag behind."The government must seize on today's good news to put forward a strategic long-term industrial plan that will be enacted as soon as possible."As part of a comprehensive industrial strategy, the government must ensure the gigafactory is constructed with UK steel. There must also be reform of the sky-high energy business costs that are proving to be a serious risk to the future of manufacturing in the UK."

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