Rivian said to be ‘considering site near Bristol’ for UK plant

The Amazon-backed EV maker has allegedly been in talks with UK ministers and is said to be considering a site near Bristol.

California-based Rivian is said to be looking at an area between Bristol and Bridgwater, in Somerset, for a UK plant.

According to Business-Live.co.uk, a deal between the UK government and Amazon-backed US carmaker, Rivian, to construct a new EV factory in the UK, is hanging in the balance over the financial incentives Britain can offer and Bristol’s potential freeport status.

If Bristol were to be awarded freeport status it could provide the incentives that Rivian is looking for, and could help bring more than £1bn to the UK economy.

Despite the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, saying last year that Bristol was a “strong contender” for the status, earlier this year, Bristol lost out on its bid.

There are now eight freeports in England, including one in Plymouth. In freeport areas goods can be imported, manufactured and re-exported without being subject to customs checks, paperwork, or import taxes (tariffs).

There are no current plans to designate more freeports in England beyond those allocated in the bidding process.

David Brown, chief executive of Bristol Port, and LEP board member, said: “It would be a complete travesty if we were to let this opportunity slip through our fingers as a region, but critically as a nation, given the government’s unequivocal commitment to net zero and high-tech manufacturing.

“Surely the Rivian deal is the very essence of the freeport model; it would be the most significant car deal since the 1980s and sends the perfect message for the benefits of Brexit and underpins aspirations of net-zero and green economy.

“This billion-pound opportunity requires our freeport status to be re-examined. There can only be an upside for regional jobs, the regional economy and the nation as a whole.”

Business-Live.co.uk analysis also revealed that if Rivian were to build a factory in the UK, it would be its first outside the US and in the South West alone it could create 10,000 jobs and another 90,000 indirect roles as part of the supply chain.

If the deal were to go ahead, it would be the biggest car deal of its kind in the UK since the 1980s – and a major boost to the country’s automotive industry, which saw production slump to its lowest level since 1984 last year amid the pandemic.

Rivian has allegedly identified a vast 616-acre smart campus called Gravity – off junction 23 of the M5 – as the potential site for the plant.

It is understood the location is the only area in Britain large enough for such a project.

Speaking to Business-Live.co.uk, Martin Bellamy, chief executive of the Gravity Smart Campus, said: “Gravity is having a number of discussions with extremely exciting occupants in the electric vehicle space. It makes absolutely no sense to me that a port the quality and size of Bristol, tied to a site as big as Gravity, is not given freeport status.”

West of England Metro Mayor, Dan Norris, said: “We can’t be kept in the dark with deals agreed in shadowy Whitehall corridors. We’re on the verge of a power revolution and I’m determined that the West of England will be right at the front.”

Image: Shutterstock

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