JLR gigafactory a ‘significant boost’

The automotive industry has welcomed the announcement that Jaguar Land Rover’s new EV battery gigafactory will be built in the UK.

The facility, which represents a £4bn investment and is expected to create 4,000 direct jobs, will be developed in Somerset, with production expected to be underway by 2026.

Graham Hoare OBE, CEO, Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and co-chair of UK Automotive Council, said: “The news that the UK has been chosen as the home of Tata Group’s first gigafactory outside India is a significant boost to the UK economy. It provides much needed confidence to the supply chain, secures a pipeline for thousands of high-skilled jobs in Somerset and across the UK and is an important step on our net-zero journey.

“The UK is in urgent need of gigafactories if it is to retain a homegrown automotive industry in the new era of electric motoring. This news sends a powerful message that the UK is committed to growing its battery capability and at the MTC we will continue to use our expertise to enable the supply chain to take full advantage of these opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), said: “There is no question that this is great news for the UK economy, with the prospect of thousands of jobs. For the UK to become a centre of excellence in the electric battery field is crucial for future decarbonisation ambitions.

“Such a sign of intent from the UK government to support the Tata decision is encouraging for the whole automotive sector. What we now need is for that intent to filter down to the aftermarket too.”

However, the IMI also warned that to support the continued uptake EVs, further investment in training is paramount with analysis suggesting that by 2030, 107,000 IMI TechSafe qualified technicians will be needed to work with electric vehicles, increasing to 139,000 by 2032.

Nash said: “Economic pressures are putting a squeeze on training budgets for new EV technicians and for those who are already IMI TechSafe qualified who will need continuous professional development (CPD) to keep up with technological advancements.

“Coupled with the high employment churn, this is putting more pressure on the sector.  If the government does not step up soon with training support, EV trained technicians will not be available.”