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JLR’s Search For EV Batteries Outside The UK Is A Warning Shot For The Country’s Industry

Honda’s 2021 departure was an even bigger blow to the UK’s car industry than the closure of Ford’s engine plant in Bridgend the year before, and now it looks like things could get even shakier unless Britain drastically increases its battery production capacity.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is in talks with Northvolt and SVolt Energy on batteries for EVs the UK company could choose to build in Slovakia, according to a report from Bloomberg. Jaguar already subcontracts production of the I-Pace electric car to Magna Steyr in Austria, but most JLR production is comprised of ICE vehicles and takes place in the UK.

Both companies are embracing EVs, with Land Rover promising to introduce multiple EV models starting in 2024, and Jaguar going all-electric by 2025, so the need for extra batteries is going to be crucial going forward. And it’s something the UK isn’t geared up to provide, experts say.

Although the UK was at the forefront of EV production a decade ago when Nissan’s Sunderland plant was chosen to build the original Leaf, and the country has invested in battery research, it hasn’t kept pace with competing states in terms of actual battery production, Bloomberg claims.

Jaguar i pace 2022

The UK would need to increase its current battery production output by 45 times to more than 90 gigawatts to be able to supply enough battery packs to keep the country’s car industry at its current size, the Green Finance Institute’s Coalition for the Decarbonisation of Road Transport said in a report.

And the group issued a stark warning of what could happen if the sector doesn’t step up its efforts with more investment along the lines of the £1.7 billion ($2.29 bn) recently secured by Britishvolt to build a factory capable of producing 30 gigawatts, or 300,000 battery packs, by 2028.

“If a battery sector does not emerge in the UK, there is both the lost opportunity cost of the financial gains of batteries being captured elsewhere and in turn a risk that the existing automotive industry in the UK could diminish through moving to co-locate with battery production,” the organization claimed.

A spokesman for JLR insisted there was no truth in Bloomberg‘s claim that the company was considering moving car production to Slovakia, and gave this statement to Carscoops:

“With our strategy for every single Jaguar Land Rover model available as a full BEV by the end of the decade, we will retain our plant and assembly facilities in the home UK market and around the world, as cited in the Reimagine strategy. We continue to explore all options around the supply of batteries. No decisions have been made yet.”


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