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UK must speed up investment in battery gigafactories following Brexit trade deal

Britishvolt gigaplant

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said the UK must secure investment in battery gigafactories "at pace", following the post-Brexit trade deal.

The UK's withdrawal from the EU took effect today (January 1, 2021) and while the automotive sector has welcomed the last-minute trade deal, announced on Christmas Eve and ratified by parliament on Wednesday (December 30), as it allows the continuation of tariff-free trade, it does bring challenges for electric vehicles (EVs) and battery production.

The deal gives European carmakers a six-year window to switch their battery supply chain from East Asia to Europe in order to avoid 10% tariffs, which will apply to electric cars where more than 55% of components are of non-European origin.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said that this means it is “imperative that the UK secures at pace investment in battery gigafactories and electrified supply chains” and urged the Government to “double down on its commitment to a green industrial revolution”.

Developing gigafactories are a key part of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan and last month UK battery technology company Britishvolt announced it would be building its first gigaplant in Blyth, Northumberland, having originally earmarked a former RAF base in South Wales.

Construction of the £2.6 billion site in Blyth is due to start this summer and it is expected to be operational by the end of 2023.  

By the final phase of the project in 2027 it will be employing up to 3,000 highly skilled people and producing more than 300,000 lithium-ion batteries for the UK automotive industry, Britishvolt said. 

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