Automotive Battery Manufacturers

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 21st September 2021.

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Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan

What recent progress he has made on the Government’s proposals to support automotive battery manufacturers.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

The Government remain firmly committed to securing gigafactories in the UK, and have demonstrated that commitment through the automotive transformation fund. As many Members will know, the first site in Sunderland was announced in July, and will see an unprecedented 100,000 battery-electric cars produced annually by Nissan and Envision AESC from 2024.

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan

I congratulate the Minister on his appointment, and pay tribute to the Secretary of State and his team for facilitating investment in gigafactories in the UK. Britishvolt is making excellent progress in Blyth, but was originally intended to come to my constituency. These large-scale projects have both devolved and reserved functions. When similar projects arise, might a Minister be dedicated to lead them, looking after both the devolved and the reserved functions and working with the Welsh Government in securing that investment?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

I am extremely grateful for my right hon. Friend’s question. I know that he is a huge champion of Wales, and that he has huge experience in this regard. I should be happy to meet him to discuss his suggestion. As he will know, the automotive transformation fund is a UK-wide programme, and we will welcome applications for support throughout the UK. I look forward to talking to my right hon. Friend about that.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

I welcome the Minister to his position.

The Prime Minister’s climate change spokeswoman recently announced that she would not be buying an electric car because of the lack of charging infrastructure and battery capacity. In 2018 the UK produced a quarter of Europe’s electric vehicles, but that is set to fall to just 4% by 2030. Motor manufacturers predict that tens of thousands of good jobs will be lost.

Will the Minister confirm that even if he meets his own targets, by 2025 the UK will have only 7% of the battery production capacity of Germany? Germans receive grants of up to €9,000 to buy an electric car, three times what he is offering. What will he do to deliver the battery capacity that is needed to secure British jobs, and make electric cars affordable? Does he understand what affordable means?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

We absolutely understand what affordable means, and we are absolutely committed to building an industry that supports batteries in the United Kingdom, ensuring that the transition to electric vehicles will take place within a short period. I am happy to talk to the hon. Lady more about that if she wishes.