Government’s gigafactory support ‘fails key tests’

The Business and Trade Committee has published the UK Government’s response to its Batteries and electric vehicles report and highlighted that it hasn’t passed its ‘key tests’.

In its response, the government pointed to its Advanced Manufacturing Plan and UK Battery Strategy to demonstrate its support for the industry, but committee chair Liam Byrne warned that the Government was failing key tests to build a domestic industry delivering 100 GWh of capacity by 2030. 

The Business and Trade Select Committee’s report set seven clear tests for the Government’s plan for EV vehicles to avoid a UK ‘gigagap’.

It also warned 160,000 jobs in the automotive sector would be imperilled unless the government acted with ambition to set out a long term vision for what it wanted the industry to look like by 2030 with a clear plan of action to go with it. 

In its report, the committee also sought assurances that Tata’s investment in a new gigafactory could also supply other UK carmakers besides Jaguar Land Rover.

The Government said that this was a matter for private companies.

Liam Byrne, Chair of the Business and Trade Committee, said: “The EV industry is a critical industry for Britain’s future and if we fail to act now, we risk creating a ‘gigagap’ that threatens the jobs of 160,000 people working in the UK automotive industry. The UK needs 100GWh of battery manufacturing capacity by 2030, but we did not see a clear government plan to deliver that ambition.

“We know that we can’t win an international subsidy race but that means we need a smart framework of policy for the future.

“That’s why our committee set seven clear tests for ministers to meet if they are serious about building a world-beating EV vehicles industry. At best, the Government’s response shows they pass barely half the tests we set, and some ‘passes’ were not convincing.

“We were pleased to see our progress around tariff-free trade, skills, critical minerals and long term R&D. Those ingredients are really important. 

“But frankly I’m alarmed that the government has no plan to even benchmark the sort of industrial support might be needed to ensure Britain becomes one of the world’s favourite places to invest. And nor did the government take our advice providing long-term certainty on energy costs for battery makers, or the designation of key sites for building the gigafactories of the future.

“Ministers’ preferred approach is to leave as much as possible to the market but that’s not how our competitors are behaving. We can’t merely gently accelerate into a global race for a key industry of tomorrow while others are going full throttle. The risk we now run is that a domestic industry won’t be built as fast as it might be, and the big global players might look elsewhere.”

Image from Shutterstock

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