Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, today warned that Government dither in investing in a new car-battery making Gigafactory for the region is putting at risk over 100,000 jobs.
The warning comes in a new report published by Labour’s Shadow Mayor for the West Midlands, drawing on extensive analysis by Unite the Union, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Economic Partnership and Coventry City Council.
In November the UK Government took the welcome decision to end sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 - but building new factories to supply the electric vehicle batteries - which make up 40% of an electric vehicle’s value - will take five to six years.
Unless the West Midlands battery factory - known as a Gigafactory - is built rapidly warns the report, car-makers will move their production to Europe where sixteen huge gigafactories are already up and running or in production.
Because the batteries are so hard to transport, car-makers will move production to where the gigafactories are up and running, and research from Unite the Union shows that a failure to manufacture electric vehicles here in the UK could cost 114,000 automotive jobs by 2040 - sooner if environmental targets and regulatory controls tighten or global companies invest in production facilities geographically aligned to high value supply chains.
The Comprehensive Spending Review announced support for UK gigafactories in the Midlands and the North East - but ministers still have not provided any detail on the process for investing public funds to back a battery maker which supplies local car-makers like LEVC, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW.
Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
‘I want our region to a global capital of green manufacturing. Coventry has set out the site for a huge Gigafactory in our region at Coventry airport, and building British batteries for British electric cars could help create 60,000 jobs. Right now, with unemployment rising fast, that’s a shot in the arm we need to cut carbon - and create new careers with full time, well paid jobs.
‘The Government said it wanted to help us and put aside money in the budget. But what we need is action not spreadsheets. We’re losing the battle of the batteries with Europe and now is the time to act, before our car makers leave for Europe’.
‘Our region was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and I’ve said from day one of my Mayoral campaign that the West Midlands can be the global capital of green manufacturing.
Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary for Unite the Union said:
‘The Government needs to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting U.K. manufacturing. Backing Liam’s ambitious plans for a gigafactory in the West Midlands would be a positive first step toward demonstrating they’re genuinely serious about protecting jobs and investing in green manufacturing in the region”.
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs & Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said:
“Coventry is at the heart of the green industrial revolution and I have no doubt that we have the pedigree, skills, location and partnerships to take advantage of further investment in the sector. This must also include a Gigafactory to secure the production and manufacture of batteries at scale in our region.
“The private sector is already playing its part. Jaguar Land Rover is investing heavily in electric vehicles, whilst Geely has already invested £320m in Coventry & Warwickshire to create the UK’s first purpose-built factory for electric vehicles.
“That investment is happening in Coventry & Warwickshire, so we need to maximise the opportunity and take advantage of our proximity to these global leaders in automotive technology. As a result, we are ready to support the sector and work with Government to both protect the future of the automotive sector and position the UK at the heart of the electric vehicle revolution.”