Tata Sons, part of the group which owns Jaguar Land Rover, today said it would build a “a “global battery cell gigafactory” here in the UK with annual capacity for 40GWh of cells.

“This investment of over GBP4bn is an integral part of [the group’s] commitment to electric mobility and renewable energy storage solutions and establishes a competitive green tech ecosystem in the UK at scale,” the Indian company said in a statement.

Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran said: “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, JLR.
 
“With this strategic investment, Tata Group further strengthens its commitment to the UK, alongside our many companies operating here across technology, consumer, hospitality, steel, chemicals, and automotive.”
 
The UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, in a statement issued by Tata, said: “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. This will be one of the largest ever investments in the UK automotive sector.

“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.”

Tata said the gigafactory would produce “high quality, high performance, sustainable battery cells and packs” for a variety of applications within the mobility and energy sectors.

The flexible manufacturing capacity would start with a rapid ramp-up phase with full production in 2026.

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By GlobalData

Tata said both JLR and Tata Motors would be “anchor customers” for the new plant. JLR has one full EV in its Jaguar range and offers several electrified Land/Range Rover models. It is also understood to be planning a fully electric luxury Jaguar line while Tata builds electric models in India.

Media reports said the plant would be in Somerset county in England’s southwest, would supply other automakers and had been subsidised by hundreds of millions of pounds.

As is usual these days, Tata plans eventually to use 100% clean power and will also set up battery recycling to recover and reuse raw materials.

Auto industry union Unite welcomed the announcement with a number of caveats and wants the plant unionised.

National officer Des Quinn said: “Tata’s giga-factory will create thousands of jobs and secure thousands more in the JLR supply chain. Unite will be working to secure an enabling agreement for unionisation at the plant, which is the best way to proceed with the project.”

The union added: “The giga-factory was secured after the government offered a support package worth hundreds of millions of pounds to clinch the deal from a rival site in Spain.”

General secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is unacceptable Britain has a last minute.com approach to our industrial strategy. 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 giga-factory 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.

“If the UK is to retain a successful automotive sector as it transitions to electric vehicles, it will need multiple giga-factories. Unite believes these can only be created as part of an interventionist industrial strategy from the government. The auto industry also requires the integration of infrastructure and a full domestic supply chain ranging from the production of parts to the manufacture of the vehicles themselves.”

“For auto, and manufacturing as a whole, business energy costs – which were some of the most prohibitively expensive in Europe even before the war in Ukraine – need reforming. This is particularly important for the UK’s embattled steel industry, which also needs a domestic procurement policy. 

“Unite national officer Des Quinn said: “Tata’s giga-factory will create thousands of jobs and secure thousands more in the JLR supply chain. Unite will be working to secure an enabling agreement for unionisation at the plant, which is the best way to proceed with the project.”

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Producing batteries in the UK is essential if we are to anchor wider vehicle production here for the long term.

“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.”