London: Britain is close to winning a major battery plant for electric vehicles as Tata Group, the parent company of Jaguar Land Rover, leans toward choosing it over Spain.
Tata, a conglomerate involved in industries from cars to salt, is currently favoring a factory in England after the UK government offered a support package, according to people familiar with the matter.
No final decision has been made, and Tata could still decide on another location, the people said.
A decision in favor of the UK by Tata would secure the future of JLR’s plants in the country and mark a major coup for the government, as Spanish authorities were battling to win the investment. The plant “- to be based in Somerset, England “- would make batteries for Jaguar Land Rover’s planned range of fully electric models that are due from 2024.
The UK has been struggling to attract significant auto-industry investment in the aftermath of Brexit, while several manufacturers have shifted output to other countries amid the generational push toward electrification.
Stellantis NV, which is adapting its Ellesmere Port site to make electric vans, said operations in the UK could close if the cost of manufacturing became uncompetitive and unsustainable.
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BMW last year said it will move production of electric Mini hatchbacks from Oxford to China. Honda Motor Co. closed its car factory in Swindon in 2021, leaving Britain with just four major manufacturers: Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan Motor Co., BMW and Toyota Motor Corp.
A spokesperson for Tata declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Department for Business and Trade declined to comment.
Darren Jones, chair of the House of Commons Business and Trade Committee, said it’s essential for the UK to manufacture batteries domestically. Otherwise, carmakers seeking to shorten their supply chains and keep costs down will simply look elsewhere.
“We have no capacity for battery manufacturing, which is essentially the entire future of car production,” he said.
-With assistance from Sabah Meddings.
(Updates with comment from Darren Jones in last two paragraphs)
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