Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 30th June
Britain's automotive sector must build huge electric car battery "gigafactories" to secure both its future and the transition to greener energy, industry body SMMT declared Tuesday.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) published an industry blueprint at its annual meeting, as demand grows for electric vehicles and speculation swirls over a possible UK gigafactory announcement from Japan's Nissan.
The proposals, entitled 'Full Throttle: Driving UK Automotive Competitiveness', seek to ramp up battery production and charging points to help create 40,000 jobs over the next decade.
"The shift to electrified vehicles is the biggest challenge facing the sector," the SMMT said.
The UK government, which hosts the UN's climate change summit in November, plans to ban sales of high-polluting diesel and petrol cars from 2030 as part of efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The industry needs a "binding target" of 60 gigawatt hours of battery production in gigafactories by the end of the decade, according to the SMMT.
"These gigafactories would give British manufacturers the capability to produce up to one million electric vehicles a year and ensure tariff free access to critical markets in the EU," the group added.
The SMMT also wants Britain to deliver a total of "at least" 2.3 million public charging points for electric cars by 2030.
That compares with the current nationwide level of about 40,000.
"This would ensure all drivers -- especially those without driveways -- have the confidence to invest in the latest zero emission technologies," it noted.
Such investment "will not just support a healthy domestic vehicle market, but ... will underpin mass market automotive manufacturing in the UK and help deliver the country's climate change and air quality goals".
The SMMT also urged the government to create a fund for all manufacturing industries to boost gigafactory capacity, while helping with skills and energy costs.
"The automotive sector is uniquely placed to help this government deliver on its agenda; to level up, deliver net zero and trade globally," SMMT boss Mike Hawes told Tuesday's gathering, held online due to the pandemic.
"The government has made clear its support for the sector in its negotiations with Europe, so now is the time to go full throttle and take bold action to support one of Britain's most important industries."
Media speculation is meanwhile growing that Japanese carmaker Nissan could this week confirm plans to construct a gigafactory at its Sunderland site in northeastern England, creating thousands of jobs.
The proposed plant at Nissan's existing Sunderland facility would be run by Chinese battery supplier Envision AESC, reports suggest.
The facility would support the production of 200,000 battery cars per year and provide thousands of jobs, according to the FT.
Nissan is due to make a global announcement on Thursday but has not given any details.
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