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Cut the 'overblown' rhetoric

The announcement of Nissan’s new £1bn electric vehicle (EV) hub in Sunderland, that will see an electric battery plant, a battery recycling facility and production of a new all-electric car model, was a welcome bit of news for the wider economy and the UK's automotive industry.

Billed as a “major vote of confidence in the UK”, this new 9GWh-capacity gigafactory is being seen as a significant investment in both the UK and in its automotive industry.

As always with these types of announcements it was accompanied by ministerial claims that it would put the UK “at the front of the global electric vehicle race”.

What is it with politicians? While this is a great story, in reality the UK remains some way behind in this race and while the government talks of it having a ‘domino effect’ on the rest of the UK automotive industry that’s unlikely to occur without further serious government money in the form of subsidies or detailed targets being set, especially when it comes to rolling out the critical infrastructure necessary for EV deployment.

And as if to prove the point this week saw Verkor, a French industrial company, secure significant funding as part of its plan to develop a 50GWh battery production facility. This news follows the signing of a partnership agreement between Verkor and the Renault Group which will see it supply an initial capacity of at least 10GWh per year for the C and higher segments of the Renault range.

Back in the UK the SMMT has called for 60GWh worth of battery capacity to be built in the UK by 2030, allowing 1m electric vehicles to be produced in a major boost to the UK's car industry.

While the Nissan project will deliver 9GWh of capacity, that will be significantly short of that target. So ministers, for once, tone down the overblown rhetoric and focus on actual delivery.

Neil Tyler

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