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Coventry to be home for new EV battery centre of excellence
The Government has announced that Coventry will be home to a new national centre of excellence in developing the latest electric vehicle battery technology, backed by millions of pounds in government investment.
Minister for Business and Industry, Andrew Stephenson, announced a new £28 million investment in the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) in Coventry, providing a stepping stone for the Government’s ambition for a ‘Gigafactory’ in the UK – a large-scale battery technology factory for EVs.
The investment, through the Industrial Strategy’s Challenge Fund, follows an £80 million initial investment in the centre, which will provide world-leading testing facilities for new battery technologies. This investment will also provide practical training to up-skill people in battery manufacturing.
Harnessing development in automotive technologies
The announcement was made as part of a new Local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands – the first in the country – which sets out a long-term vision for the region to increase productivity, including how the West Midlands can harness the next developments in automotive technologies, such as EVs and driverless cars.
Andrew Stephenson said: “Putting the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles is at the heart of our plans – creating jobs, growth and opportunity across the country.
“Our investment of £28 million in this new facility will support the UK’s world-leading automotive industry to compete internationally, attract further investment and establish supply chains for new electric vehicle battery design and development.”
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, described the investment as a major coup for the city and the wider West Midlands.
“This £108 million facility will give the city and the region a huge boost in the race to lead the world in the production of EVs, which is an increasingly important market as we look to tackle air pollution and climate change.”
The Managing Director of the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, Jeff Pratt, added: “It is fantastic to see construction starting on UKBIC and we are looking forward to working with all our partners on this project which will have huge significance on the next generation of battery systems.”
Productivity in the West Midlands grew at twice the rate of the UK average in 2018, and the new Local Industrial Strategy sets out how leaders from across the West Midlands will work in partnership with government to deliver on a number of initiatives, including the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge.
First Future Mobility Area
Announced late last year, the region has been confirmed as the first in the UK to be chosen as a Future Mobility Area, securing £20m government funding to explore mobility solutions including car sharing.
Plans to help cut congestion on the region’s roads are now being pursued, including a new mobility credits scheme to provide drivers with alternatives to private vehicles and enhancing public transport.
The West Midlands is also bidding to play a leading role in the UK’s trials of connected autonomous vehicles, with plans to deploy the first fully operational vehicles of this kind in advance of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, while it is also looking to deliver the UK’s first large-scale 5G testbed.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Our modern Industrial Strategy aims to boost productivity across the country by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase earning power. This Local Industrial Strategy is tailored to the specific challenges in the West Midlands, and will set an example for other regions to follow.
“Our funding for the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry is a key part of this, and will see a world-class facility developed in this automotive heartland, further cementing opportunities, growth and inward investment in the West Midlands.”
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