Plans for a “mission critical” electric car battery plant in the English cathedral city Coventry have been accelerated in a bid to keep automotive production at the heart of the West Midlands region, media reports said.
Coventry city council has presented a blueprint for a 5.7m square feet gigafactory, which could create up to 6,000 new jobs, in partnership with Coventry airport where the plant would be located, The Guardian reported.
The airport is on the south eastern outskirts of the city, not far from a large industrial estate and logistics park at Ryton, the former site of a Rootes Group PSA/car assembly plant closed in the 2000s.
The newspaper noted the joint venture first revealed its plans in February with the hope of submitting planning permission by the end of the year and attracting an experienced manufacturer to start production by 2025.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “It is mission critical that the West Midlands secures a gigafactory, both for the future of our region’s automotive industry and the huge economic and job benefits it would bring, as well as the future of our planet.
“The West Midlands is already home to the country’s biggest car manufacturer [Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover], Europe’s largest research centre of its kind, the UK’s only battery industrialisation centre and a world-leading supply chain. A gigafactory therefore is the natural next step for the UK’s automotive heartland, and I will not rest until we have secured one.”
The report noted Aston Martin Lagonda and BMW [the Hams Hall engine plant on the site of a former power station], are also based in the West Midlands, as well as the UK’s largest battery research centre, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).
The report said the Coventry gigafactory plan, which could attract private investment of up to GBP2bn, is moving ahead two weeks after Nissan outline plans for a £1bn electric vehicle hub in Sunderland. The Japanese company said it would create 6,000 jobs to help safeguard the future of Britain’s largest car factory as motoring moves away from petrol and diesel.
Steve Turner, the Unite union assistant general secretary, told The Guardian the UK needed at least seven gigafactories to stay competitive. “There’s no time to waste,” Turner said. “Our competitors are spending more and moving faster. UK manufacturers, our world-class auto industry and consumers desperately need to know that the infrastructure is in place to help them go green.”
Coventry has a long history of both automaking and components manufacturing and was once home to many famous, now largely defunct, brands, some of which began as bicycle makers, for which the city was once well known. The large Humber site at Stoke is now a mix of housing and home to Stellantis’ UK head office and parts facilities while the former Massey-Ferguson site at Banner Lane is also now a residential estate. Jaguar closed its Browns Lane factory some years ago to concentrate car assembly at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham.