Coventry council touts plans for battery 'gigafactory' at local airport

Securing a factory for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries is seen as key for the UK’s post-Brexit net zero agenda

Coventry Airport is the latest UK site being touted for a world-leading ‘gigafactory’ capable of producing batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) on a major scale, according to plans laid out today by Coventry City Council.

Efforts to secure investment and government funding for the project are being spearheaded by a new joint venture between the Council and Coventry Airport announced today, with a view to potentially having the gigafactory up and running by as soon as 2025.

They are hoping to submit an outline planning application for the project before the end of 2021, while in the meantime further developing the plans and talking with battery suppliers and automotive manufacturers in order to secure the necessary investment, they said.

Building a major domestic battery manufacturing plant is seen as key to the UK’s post-Brexit net zero agenda, as batteries are increasingly in demand from electric car makers and energy storage specialists, yet they can be expansive and difficult to import. As such, the UK government has promised to make up to £500m of funding available to support the development of gigafactories and domestic zero carbon vehicle production. 

Coventry City Council argues the nearby airport would be an ideal site for a new gigafactory, due to its proximity to the headquarters of global car giants including Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover. The Airport site could also accommodate up to 4.5 million sq ft of commercial space, it added.

“Coventry has emerged as a world leader in battery technology,” said leader of Coventry City Council George Duggins. “The city is home to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, world-leading research institutions, and the UK’s largest car maker Jaguar Land Rover and it’s clear to me that Coventry is the right location.” 

It comes as the UK car industry is continues to ramp up its preparations for electric mobility ahead of the UK government’s ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030. Yesterday, Coventry-based Jaguar Land Rover announced that all cars built under the Jaguar brand will be fully electric by 2025, as the firm shifts gears towards becoming a net zero emissions business by 2039.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street also lent his backing to Coventry’s proposals, claiming he has been “utterly obsessed with securing a Gigafactory for the West Midlands due to the huge economic and job benefits it would bring”.

“The point I have been ferociously lobbying to government is that the West Midlands is the natural place for a UK gigafactory as we are already home to the country’s biggest car manufacturer, Europe’s largest research centre, the UK’s only battery industrialisation centre, and a world-leading supply chain,” said Street. “By announcing the site now and driving forward with a planning application and a joint venture, we are showing how united and serious the region is about making this happen.”

Read more: businessgreen.com