Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata is close to securing hundreds of millions of pounds for a UK car battery plant, making the future of its factories, including Halewood, more secure. Tony McDonough reports
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) owner Tata is close to securing hundreds of millions pounds from the Government to build a car battery factory in the UK.
On Wednesday, the BBC reported that Natarajan Chandrasekaran, the chair of India-based Tata was to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak next week to finalise the deal.
Although based in Somerset, the multi-billion pound battery plant would likely make the future of JLR’s three car assembly sites, at Halewood in Merseyside and the West Midlands, more secure.
In April LBN reported that the Halewood factory was to go all-electric as part of a £15bn investment by the automotive giant.
JLR currently employs more than 3,500 people at the factory assembling the Range Rover, Evoque and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. By 2025 a new all-electric SUV model will be rolling off the production line at the site.
Chief executive Adrian Mardell said this new investment would reposition the company as an electric-first, luxury carmaker by 2030.
However, the UK is lagging behind other countries in the development of car battery technology. JLR has been pondering a decision on where to site its new battery factory – the UK or Spain.
Now it looks likely the UK has won the battle with reports suggesting the Government subsidy for the plant, that would employ 9,000 people, was as much as £500m.
This, said the BBC, would take the form of cash grants, energy subsidies and other training and research funding.
In May Mr Mardell offered assurance that question marks over the supply of batteries for electric cars did not threaten the future of its UK factories.
Mr Mardell admitted that it “would be wonderful” if a factory were built in the UK but added “it was “not a threat to us” if they had to be imported from elsewhere.
Last week rival automotive giant Strellantis, warned its UK factories, including its plant at Ellesmere Port, were at risk of closure if the UK Government does not renegotiate the Brexit deal. Stellantis is committed to a £100m project to make electric vans in Cheshire.