Plans for a “mission critical” electric car battery plant in Coventry have accelerated in a drive to keep automotive production at the heart of the West Midlands region.
Coventry city council has put forward 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 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.
Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, 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, 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 West Midlands is home to carmakers including Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin Lagonda and BMW, as well as the UK’s largest battery research centre, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).
The Coventry gigafactory plan, which could attract private investment of up to £2bn, is moving ahead a fortnight after Nissan set out 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’s assistant general secretary, said 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.”