UK Officials and Jaguar Want To See EV Battery Hub Established

British officials and Jaguar Land Rover want to see the city of Coventry become the UK’s hub for electric vehicle batteries.

Government officials, JLR CEO Ralf Speth, academics, and business leaders met Tuesday in the historic center of the UK auto industry to announce plans for establishing the National Battery Prototyping Center. It would become England’s hub for R&D and testing electric vehicle batteries.

It would also help JLR, the UK’s largest carmaker, make its decision to build electric cars in the home country, Speth said.

Those gathered at the event see the potential for a national test center being the springboard for large-scale battery production in that region. Automakers would like to see more local options to improve the UK’s manufacturing capacity as customer demand for electric cars increases along with strict air quality targets coming from the government.

Jaguar is preparing to release its battery-electric I-Pace crossover SUV in 2018, shown in the photo above. But it will be made in Austria. JLR has also gone overseas to Slovakia to add a new production plant for its conventional vehicles.

Proposals are being organized by the Warwick Manufacturing Group, which works with manufacturers and is based at Warwick University. It will be focused on directing submitted projects along the lines of meeting the needs of manufacturers such as JLR.

During an interview with Reuters last year, Speth said JLR would like to build cars and batteries in its home country, but only if improvements are added including pilot testing, support from science, and energy supply.

Backers of the National Battery Prototyping Center will be submitting proposals to ministers coming from funding for new technologies recently announced by the UK’s Conservative government. Decisions made on grant proposals will be released soon after the June 8 general election.

Officials in the region think their central location will make it a practical choice for a national center. They say their plan could create 10,000 jobs.

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Automaker executives and government officials will be watching to see the impact of election results, and potential tariffs on vehicle exports following the “Brexit” decision to leave the European Union.

Nissan does produce Leafs at its plant in Sunderland. BMW will be deciding by the end of next year whether to build a new electric Mini model at its Oxford plant.

Business minister Greg Clark said during Tuesday’s event that the next administration will have to decide on investment choices after next week’s election. Regardless of election results, support for the Coventry projects looks like it will be going forward.

“The enthusiasm of everyone in the room, including JLR, to establish Coventry and the West Midlands as a test bed and place of innovation in battery storage is very evident and there’s huge commitment to that,” he said.

Reuters

 


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