Build batteries or risk zapping our EV future
By Simon Hacker | 9th March 2023
Britain's strength as a vehicle maker rests upon creating a climate for OEMs to build electric vehicle batteries, warns the UK's Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA).
Geoff Noon, MTA statistician, told Renishaw's forum on additive manufacturing that the UK currently makes more engines than cars – and the impact of supply chain distribution issues on the auto sector last year translated into between seven and eight million cars not being produced.
Geoff said: "The issue is that vehicles are made where batteries are made. And because batteries are heavy, the UK auto industry faces a real threat, given that Nissan is the only battery maker in the UK making batteries now."
Looking more broadly, he added: "There was barely any growth of UK GDP last year; it was pretty much a lost cause."
Despite this warning, he added the UK is ahead in the additive manufacturing (AM) 3D field in four key areas: machines, all AM materials, AM products and parts and all AM services.
The Faraday Institution recently predicted the UK auto industry will need ten UK-based gigafactories (large, high volume battery manufacturing facilities) by 2040, each producing 20 GWh per year of batteries.
The institution said: "The transition to electrified transport is essential to meet Net Zero commitments. The size of the economic opportunity provided by this change is significant."
Meanwhile the recent collapse of battery startup Britishvolt, warns the Royal Society of Chemistry, has highlighted our precarious position: "Vehicle manufacturers ideally need local battery supply chains in place to minimise costs, but uncertainty over political support is deterring investment."
This morning, new global research commissioned by ABB Robotics and leading industry publication Automotive Manufacturing Solutions revealed more than half (59%) of respondents believe the shift to pure electric vehicle production is not achievable within current legislative timelines.
Punchline says: yet another canary-in-the-mine warning follows on from our coverage of the impact of silicone chip shortages on Gloucestershire industry. The best climate for productivity and progress is one where we have certainty, fluid trading relations and clear forward planning. Let's not ignore these warnings or our transition to EV transport will stutter.
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