Tata Group has vowed to make one of the “largest ever” investments in the UK motor industry with plans to build a battery factory to provide cells for electric vehicles.
The Indian conglomerate said it planned to commit £4bn to the “gigafactory” in Somerset which, with an annual output of up to 40GWh is billed as one of the largest in Europe.
The plant will provide UK-produced batteries for another of the group’s businesses – Jaguar Land Rover – as well as other EV manufacturers in the UK and Europe, with the Range Rover, Defender, Discovery and Jaguar brands all set to benefit.
Tata says the plant will create up to 4,000 jobs, as well as “thousands” of jobs in the wider supply chain for battery materials and raw minerals.
Following a “rapid ramp-up phase” the developers expect production to commence in 2026, with an additional ambition to power the facility using 100% clean energy.
Commenting on the plans, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Tata Group’s multi-billion-pound investment in a new battery factory in the UK is testament to the strength of our car manufacturing industry and its skilled workers.
“With the global transition to zero emission vehicles well underway, this will help grow our economy by driving forward our lead in battery technology whilst creating as many as 4,000 jobs, and thousands more in the supply chain.
“We can be incredibly proud that Britain has been chosen as home to Tata Group’s first gigafactory outside India, securing our place as one of the most attractive places to build electric vehicles.”
Tata chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said the commitment marked a “historic moment” for the UK EV industry.
“With this strategic investment, the Tata Group further strengthens its commitment to the UK, alongside our many companies operating here across technology, consumer, hospitality, steel, chemicals, and automotive.
“This investment will be crucial to boosting the UK’s battery manufacturing capacity needed to support the electric vehicle industry in the long term. With an initial output of 40GWh it will also provide almost half of the battery production that the Faraday Institution estimates the UK will need by 2030.”
Tata has reportedly been in discussions with government for months over the level of state support for the scheme, with sources reached by the BBC suggesting a “significant” commitment.
The company said details of the level of state backing given to the scheme would published “in due course” as part of its regular transparency filings.
Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said the government had been working “tirelessly” with the company to secure UK status for the scheme.
“This new gigafactory puts us firmly in the fast lane to becoming the capital of Europe’s electric car market, and makes crystal clear how they see the UK as the place to be for their future growth,” he continued.
“With thousands of jobs on site and in the supply chain, this new factory will be the cornerstone of our automotive industry, backing manufacturers to develop and expand, and customers to make the switch from petrol and diesel.”
Meanwhile, high-profile challenges faced by other UK battery manufacturers – including now defunct startup Britishvolt and struggling Caithness firm AMTE Power – suggests the market may remain tough to crack.