Extra £1 million for gigafactory scheme as investment drive goes global

A further £1 million will been ploughed into the region's gigafactory project in a bid to attract global investors.

A new CGI of the proposed West Midlands gigafactory at Coventry Airport
A new CGI of the proposed West Midlands gigafactory at Coventry Airport

The joint venture behind the £2.5 billion scheme said it plans to market it across the world – with a focus on potential investors in China, South Korea and the US.

The 5.38 million sq ft gigafactory has been lined up for land at Coventry Airport and will build batteries for electric vehicles.

Political leaders say it is "hugely important" for the future of the automotive industry in the Black Country and the wider region, which employs thousands of people.

However, the scheme is yet to attract the backing from the major firm needed to get it off the ground, sparking concerns the West Midlands could miss out to other regions.

Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport say the extra £1m they plan to put in will also allow delays to be minimised so the site can be operational as quickly as possible.

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration, and Climate Change at Coventry City Council said: "The global market for battery manufacturing is accelerating at a rapid speed and if our site is to remain internationally competitive it is vital that we remove barriers to investment and minimise potential delays to construction so battery manufacturing can start as quickly as possible.

"This fresh funding will allow us to undertake the work needed whilst also enabling the joint venture partners to take the opportunity to the global market and potential investors across the globe."

Andy Street and Pat McFadden at the new Electric Vehicle and Green Technologies Centre, Wednesfield

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street told the Star: "The West Midlands is already home to the country’s biggest car manufacturer, Europe’s largest research centre of its kind, the UK’s only battery industrialisation centre, and a world-leading supply chain.

"A gigafactory is the natural next step for the UK’s automotive heartland, and this latest development shows we are working in partnership across the West Midlands to bring our plans to life.

"Ultimately a gigafactory will help turbo-charge our automotive sector, cementing us as a global leader in state-of-the-art battery technology, and create and protect tens of thousands of jobs."

It comes after reports suggested Jaguar Land Rover was considering building a gigafactory in either Somerset or Teeside, while Britishvolt announced it is building a new £200m test facility site in Warwickshire to serve its planned gigafactory in Northumberland.

The West Midlands is bidding to put itself at the forefront of the shift to electric vehicles, and recently saw a new training centre opened for prospective workers at Wolverhampton College.

Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden, Labour's Shadow Treasury Secretary, said: "Securing a gigafactory is hugely important to the automotive industry in the West Midlands.

"The prize is enormous in terms of the volume of investment and the jobs it would create. We have to ensure we are a key part of the transition to electric vehicles.

"Equally, if we don’t secure a gigafactory that will be very bad news for everyone connected with the automotive industry in our region and the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on it."

The West Midlands gigafactory will create around 6,000 jobs and deliver £434m in GVA per year to the West Midlands economy.

A final decision on the proposed funding will be made at a Cabinet meeting tomorrow (June 22).

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