Electric car demand could see UK build a gigafactory for batteries ‘within three years’

Batteries are heavy and can often be dangerous to transport over long distances due to their flammability, but the lack of large-scale battery production capacity in the UK means carmakers are “already negotiating long-term contracts with battery suppliers outside the UK”.

Last month, the UK government announced £1bn of additional funding to accelerate the development of electric vehicle supply chains. Part of the investment will be used as “support for that first investment” into a gigafactory, Morris claims, but additional funds will be needed. “Most of the investment is going to come from the inward investor,” he said.  

The race to establish a lead in electric cars has driven a 25pc surge in R&D investment by automotive companies over the past five years.

New figures show spending on all new products and technology – not just electric vehicles – by world’s 20 biggest car companies hit £70bn in 2018/19, up from £55.6bn in 2014/15, according to analysis from consultancy BDO.

European car makers dominate – accounting for £33.3bn of the total and representing a 34pc rise over five years. VW Group is the biggest single spender, responsible for a third of the European total. 

Second are Japanese manufacturers at £19.5bn, followed by those in the US at £12.6bn.