The UK’s car manufacturing industry is at threat of losing up to 90,000 jobs unless the government can increase support for electric car (EV) production in the country. Despite being home to one of the world’s biggest car and commercial vehicle manufacturing bases, the UK finds itself desperately losing traction in the EV race, with world leaders like Germany and the USA both ahead substantially on electric engine targets.
Despite considerable investment from the government, the UK’s current lack of gigafactories and a number of process and infrastructure issues mean the British auto sector is losing its competitive edge, and the more time draws on without significant change, the bleaker the outlook for those involved in the domestic industry.
A matter of gigafactories
Despite the government’s grandiose green intentions, not least in the automotive industry, it is the current absence of gigafactories – the facilities where manufacturers develop batteries for EVs – that is causing the UK to fall behind in what is a vital facet of sustainable futureproofing. While Nissan is expected to unveil plans for the country’s first gigafactory in Sunderland imminently, a report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has suggested that is merely the start of what is required for the UK to reach parity with other global automotive powerhouses.
As things stand, the UK’s targeted 12-gigawatt hours (GWh) of lithium battery capacity by 2025 would still pale in comparison the numbers expected from the US (91GWh) and Germany (164GWh). Industry experts are warning that every day that goes by where the UK is not investing battery-making capacity is another nail in the coffin of the countries’ elevated position in the automotive production rankings.
Bracing for impact
Should the UK not get up to speed with the rest of the green pack, 90,000 jobs in the domestic automotive sector would be put at risk. Car makers have urged Boris Johnson and the government to invest now into a number of EV infrastructure points – not only gigafactories to attract multinational investment but ensuring the UK has enough public charging points to support EV use come the end of the decade. Where the latter is concerned, the SMMT stated in its latest report that 2.3 million public charging points will be needed by 2030, while additional stimulus for British EV buyers has also been requested. The UK’s current £2,500 plug-in grant incentive again looks stingy against the $7,000 offered by the US government and €9,000 available for German consumers.
It would appear, then, that the investment into new gigafactories and wider EV infrastructure is intrinsic to the government’s previously stated ten-point green plan. However, as of right now, the government doesn’t seem to be truly committing or offering any proactive developments in what is a key area of global development.
The inevitable EV revolution brings a variety of questions with it for the individual consumer – questions like whether charging points will be required to be installed in homes or whether currently relevant cover policies like GAP insurance will still be worth it. On a wider level, though, the UK faces more poignant queries as to its position in tomorrow’s global auto sector.
As we sit here today, it’s far from guaranteed that Great Britain will retain its currently lofty position as the worldwide automotive landscape shifts to greener pastures.