Jaguar Land Rover ‘in talks’ to build giant Somerset gigafactory

Automotive giant Jaguar Land Rover is “in talks” to build a giant gigafactory in Somerset, new reports suggest. The Telegraph has said the Gravity business park near Bridgwater is hoping to land a bumper deal to woo the carmaker to the South West. Bosses at the 635-acre “smart campus” near the M5 motorway at Puriton have long-hoped to welcome a gigafactory – a facility that produces batteries for electric vehicles on a gigantic scale – to their site.

The UK Government had earlier attempted to woo Amazon-backed US electric vehicle maker Rivian to the Somerset site in 2021. The Telegraph now reports that Jaguar Land Rover is looking to choose between the Somerset location and another site in Redcar, Teesside, as it looks to push forward with its electric vehicle plans. It also reports that Tata Motors, the Indian owner of Jaguar Land Rover, has recently threatened to shift its electric car battery production to Slovakia if ministers refuse to offer taxpayer support for a UK gigafactory. A spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover said: “With our strategy for every single Jaguar Land Rover model available as a full [battery electric vehicle] by the end of the decade, we continue to explore all options around the supply of batteries.

No decisions have been made yet.” The 635-acre Gravity smart campus is located on a former Royal Ordnance Factory site in Puriton, near Bridgwater. It will feature a direct link road to junction 23 of the M5, as well as purpose-built on-site freight and passenger rail terminals.

The business park will also feature dark fibre internet connectivity, low carbon on-site energy solutions and water abstraction facilities from the adjacent River Huntspill. Gravity has previously stated its aim to attract “world-leaders in advanced manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence and electric vehicles” to the giant site.

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SomersetLive reports that in March 2021, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the House of Commons he believes Somerset “has the manufacturing skill and competence to be able to sustain an excellent gigafactory”. He added that the government was “considering and looking” at the Gravity site.

Last year, a spokesman for the UK Government said it is “working hard to attract inward investment into the UK to accelerate the growth of new industries and create jobs”. The spokesman added that it “does not comment on speculation about individual investments”. In 2021, Government ministers were in discussions with Amazon-backed California electric vehicle firm Rivian, and BusinessLive understands a large group of representatives from Rivian visited the Gravity site in September 2021. Prime minister Boris Johnson was also closely involved in attempts to woo Rivian’s management, it was reported.

BusinessLive had exclusively revealed a month earlier the deal was “hanging in the balance” over the financial incentives Britain could offer. It was understood that one way to unlock it could have been to provide the Bristol region with freeport status, which it lost out on in March 2021. British ministers offered a package including a new link road to the M5 motorway, training facilities and the reintroduction of an old rail link that used to go north from the Somerset site. Sky News reported the Government also offered to use a special development order (SDO), a rarely used legal power aimed at enabling rapid planning decisions, to facilitate Rivian’s arrival in the UK, as well as offering other financial incentives.

It was expected that a decision from Rivian would come by the end of 2021. However, there has been no news regarding the deal since. Like this story?

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