May 24, 2023: Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata Motors is all set to pick Britain for its multi-billion pound electric car battery plant at the Gravity business park near Bridgwater, UK. The global automotive industry has described this move as one of the most significant investments in the UK automotive sector.
The head of Jaguar Land Rover-owner Tata is scheduled to visit the country soon to finalise the deal and is expected to meet the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. Although the deal has not been signed yet, it has moved from negotiations to the drafting of how the landmark agreement will be presented.
The decision by Tata to choose the UK over Spain represented a major win for Rishi Sunak who is currently focusing towards making the country more attractive to automakers. The UK government has acknowledged the move as the need of the hour in the UK to secure the future of the car industry there. Tata was earlier considering another site in Spain but the decision to choose Somerset is a major achievement for the country.
The UK government has offered the owner of JLR group £500m in subsidies in an effort to persuade the carmaker to establish a new electric battery plant in the country. This treasury package includes a mixture of a cash grant and reductions in energy costs as well as covering the cost of upgrading the power network and transport connections around the site identified in Somerset.
The country's automotive sector employs up to 800,000 people directly and in the supply chain, this deal could further employ 9,000 people in England. Such an investment would also amplify the British car industry.
Britain lags behind in the global race to build local battery capacity, threatening the future of its EV sector which requires batteries to be built near car manufacturing plants. A lack of a home-grown battery sector would also risk tariffs on British cars under post-Brexit rules that would come into force from next year.
The Somerset site's access to power, a skilled UK automotive workforce and the British heritage of Jaguar Land Rover would magnify the investment decision. Industry experts hope that Tata’s investment will open the door to further battery investments in the UK. The £500m offer to JLR represents a significant commitment from the UK government towards automotive development in the country, and along with the total budget of £1bn for its automotive transformation fund, the government aims to support the British car industry’s shift to electric vehicles.