Could the West Midlands become home to a UK gigafactory?

The UK government should consider the West Midlands for the UK's next gigafactory, according to calls from innovation leaders at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and University of Warwick.

Arguing that the West Midlands is uniquely placed to host this vital manufacturing infrastructure, which will help ensure that the UK is able to successfully transition to electric vehicles and meet its net zero goals by 2050, the case was made by Dr Clive Hickman, the leader of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, and Margot James, the executive chair at WMG, University of Warwick.

With unprecedented freight and manufacturing disruption exposing the fragilities of many supply chains, there is evidence that there is reappraising of sourcing certain products, not least semiconductors. While not directly related to those concerns, this joint call is aimed at bolstering manufacturing infrastructure in the heart of the UK's automotive - and fastener - industry, in the West Midlands.

MTC Chief Exec Dr Clive Hickman said: "A West Midlands Gigafactory would spark a resurgence of Britain’s proud automotive heritage, creating thousands of well-paid, high-skilled jobs to thousands of workers in the region, and provide a pipeline of demand and investment for local SMEs. Without this manufacturing infrastructure, the whole industry will be placed under threat - not just from devastating job losses at manufacturers, but from the wider impact of the collapse of businesses which are critical to the automotive supply chain.

“Net zero can only be achieved by 2050 if the automotive industry is able successfully to shift away from internal combustion to electric vehicles. However, to execute this transition, and to protect the thousands of UK jobs which are reliant on the industry and its wider supply chain, particularly in the Midlands, we need to secure new battery technology Gigafactories at the heart of the UK's auto industry - the West Midlands. Failing to do this will put the whole sector at risk - and endanger the future of the UK’s proud automotive and engineering heritage.”

Margot James, Executive Chair, WMG, University of Warwick, added: "For over a decade, WMG have been applying their battery expertise on a range of collaborative projects with the automotive industry. Together with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, we are playing an essential role in attracting and growing battery Gigafactories in the UK. We strongly support the need for a Gigafactory in the West Midlands.”

Work recently began on Britishvolt's gigafactory in Blyth, Northumberland.

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