The UK must rapidly accelerate the establishment of Gigafactories and new battery technology development, or risk losing domestic car production altogether – according to a report published today by expert manufacturing consultancy HSSMI.
"Electrification is increasing demand for the battery cells and packs powering electric vehicles," said Axel Bindel, executive director, HSSMI. "The UK in particular is at a pivotal moment. By 2040, there will be a need for 140 GWh in battery cell capacity*, equivalent to five Gigafactories. Currently however, there is only 3 GWh of production in the UK and, by 2030, just a further 45 GWh planned, leaving a major gap – over 95 GWh – between the rate of battery plant establishment, planning and the forecasted demand. That is where HSSMI can play a crucial role."
HSSMI advises global OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers on the design of manufacturing plants, optimisation of production efficiency and introduction of circular economy principles. In recent years, it has amassed a wealth of knowledge in Gigafactory development, expertise which has never been more crucial, as the UK – as well as Europe and the US – risk being left behind by other countries that are making rapid headway towards electrification.
With its accessibility to abundant natural resources, as well as government-driven support for high-volume manufacturing and local demand for electric vehicles, the majority of global battery production – roughly 70 per cent – is currently in Asia.
The UK on the other hand, faces challenges including lack of skilled technicians on cell manufacturing processes and availability of critical raw materials, as well as high production costs. Investing in more battery plants and bringing them as close as possible to car production – reducing supply chain challenges – can alleviate many of these issues, but the industry needs to act fast. It is clear that the government is starting to make funds available for the industry, with more collaboration potentially needed to steer the country to success.
*The Faraday Institution