UK Selected For Battery Gigafactory For Jaguar Land Rover EVs

Tata Group, the Indian owner of Jaguar Land Rover, has selected Somerset in the UK to build a £4 billion battery gigafactory

The United Kingdom is set to gain significant battery manufacturing capabilities, after Tata Group said it plans to build an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Britain to supply its Jaguar Land Rover factories.

The Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) owner Tata announced it will invest over £4 billion pounds ($5.2bn) in the gigafactory, which will create 4,000 jobs in the country. The government is also said to be making a financial contribution to the plant.

Unlike other European countries, the UK is lagging behind its neighbours after a number of battery projects failed to material. That said, the UK does have one small battery plant located near a Nissan factory and another in the works.

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Battery gigafactory

But that could be about to change. According to Tata, it will build a battery cell gigafactory in the United Kingdom, to deliver electric mobility and renewable energy storage solutions for customers in UK and Europe.

The UK gigafactory will have a capacity to produce 40GW of cells annually, which will be almost half the 100 GWh a year the UK is expected (by the Faraday Institution) to require by 2030.

JLR and Tata Motors will be anchor customers, with supplies commencing from 2026, Tata said.

“The Tata group is deeply committed to a sustainable future across all of our business,” explained N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons. “Today, I am delighted to announce the Tata group will be setting up one of Europe’s largest battery cell manufacturing facilities in the UK.”

“Our multi-billion pound investment will bring state-of-the-art technology to the country, helping to power the automotive sector’s transition to electric mobility, anchored by our own business, Jaguar Land Rover,” said Chandrasekaran.

“With this strategic investment, the Tata group further strengthens its commitment to the UK, alongside our many companies operating here across technology, consumer, hospitality, steel, chemicals, and automotive,” said Chandrasekaran. “I also want to thank His Majesty’s Government, which has worked so closely with us to enable this investment.”

Government incentives

Reuters reported that the UK had been competing with Spain for the investment, and while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government declined to outline the financial support it had promised Tata to fend off Spain, energy minister Grant Shapps that the support package was “large” but would not directly reach 1 billion pounds.

“Tata group’s decision to build their new gigafactory here in the UK – their first outside of India – is a huge vote of confidence in Britain,” said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “This will be one of the largest ever investments in the UK automotive sector.”

Rishi Sunak at London Tech Week 2022. Image credit: Rishi Sunak/Twitter
Rishi Sunak at London Tech Week 2022. Image credit: Rishi Sunak/Twitter

“It will not only create thousands of skilled jobs for Britons around the country, but it will also strengthen our lead in the global transition to electric vehicles, helping to grow our economy in clean industries of the future,” said Sunak.

The gigafactory is expected to be built in Somerset.

According to Tata, the battery gigafactory will produce high-quality, high-performance, sustainable battery cells and packs for a variety of applications within the mobility and energy sectors.

The company’s strategic growth plans for its flexible manufacturing capacity will begin with a rapid ramp-up phase and the start of production in 2026.

The gigafactory apparently intends to maximise its renewable energy mix, with an ambition for 100 percent clean power. According to Tata, the plant will “employ innovative technologies and resource efficient processes like battery recycling to recover and reuse all the original raw materials to deliver a truly circular economy ecosystem.”

The UK as part of its net zero strategy, plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. Sales of hybrid cars, with a combination of combustion and electric motors, will be allowed until 2033.

Battery ventures

The UK has been lagging in the creation of battery factories for a number of years now.

The UK lost out when Tesla selected Germany for it’s European gigafactory in 2019.

A new hope was offered by UK battery venture Britishvolt, but it collapsed into bankruptcy in January 2023 after months of struggle.

That collapse was blamed on the large sums it spent on research. The firm had been offered £100m of financing from the UK government but failed to meet various requirements.

Australia-based start-up Recharge Industries then acquired Britishvolt after finalising a deal with bankruptcy administrators, but so far there have no announcements as to a UK manufacturing plant.

Prior to its collapse, Britishvolt had been developing a £3.8 billion “gigafactory” at Blyth, Northumberland, in the north-east of England.

Artist's depiction of planned Britishvolt electric vehicle battery plant in Blyth. Image credit: Britishvolt
Artist’s depiction of planned Britishvolt electric vehicle battery plant in Blyth. Image credit: Britishvolt

In July 2021 a joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd filed a planning application for a battery gigafactory at Coventry Airport.

Essentially, this West Midlands Gigafactory joint venture was expected to manufacture electric car batteries, but again there have been no announcements since then.