Plans for an enormous new gigafactory in England are taking form
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A building application has been submitted for a large new gigafactory in central England, with project officials claiming it could create 6,000 jobs and tens of thousands more across the supply chain.
The proposals for the factory were made by the Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport, which act as joint venture partners.
So-called gigafactories are systems that manufacture batteries for electric vehicles on a large scale. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, is considered to be the inventor of the term.
If built, the Coventry facility would be located at Coventry Airport and focus on both the production and recycling of batteries for electric vehicles. Covering an area of up to 5.7 million square feet, it will run on 100% green electricity. Proposals for the project were first announced in February.
Coventry is in the West Midlands, a part of England known for its longstanding association with vehicle manufacturing.
“It is critical that the West Midlands secure a gigafactory, both for the future of our region’s automotive industry and for the tremendous economic and professional benefits it would bring, as well as the future of our planet,” said Andy Street. Mayor of the West Midlands said Thursday.
Street continued to describe the region as the home of “the country’s largest automobile manufacturer, Europe’s largest research center of its kind, the UK’s only battery industrialization center and a world-leading supply chain.” He added that a gigafactory was “the natural next step for the automotive heartland of the UK”.
The Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council will decide on the building application for the Gigafactory in Coventry later in the year.
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Low-carbon and zero-carbon transport is seen as a critical tool for large economies trying to reduce their ecological footprint and reduce air pollution.
For example, the UK government plans to stop selling new diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2030, and to have zero exhaust emissions for all new cars and vans from 2035.
Elsewhere, the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, aims to reduce CO2 emissions from cars and vans by 100% by 2035.
In order to achieve these goals, sufficient charging infrastructure and capacities for battery production will be required in the coming years.
On the battery front, major deals are being made to increase production capacities in Europe. According to a current briefing by the Transport & Environment campaign group, 38 gigafactories for battery cells are under construction or planned in the EU and Great Britain from May 2021.
Tesla, for example, is building a number of gigafactories, including one in Germany, while other major automotive companies are also starting to play their part in the industry.
In June Renault announced that it had signed two major partnerships related to the development and production of batteries for electric vehicles. That same month, Nissan announced plans to build a £ 1 billion ($ 1.38 billion) gigafactory in Sunderland, northeast England.
And back in March, Volkswagen announced that it wanted to set up several gigafactories in Europe by the end of the decade.
In an interview with CNBC’s Annette Weisbach earlier this week, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess highlighted the importance of battery production in the coming years and stated that there were challenges.
“Batteries could be, shall we say, a continued drag on the growth of electric vehicles for the next five to ten years,” he said.
“Because the lead times are enormous. We need so much energy and cell production … [There is a] huge supply chain that needs to be built over the next few years and that could lead to restrictions. “
CNBC’s Chloe Taylor contributed to this report