UK battery gigafactories 'essential' as auto chiefs report 'bumper year' for EVs

by John Shepherd
SMMT: 'Investment in charging infrastructure and battery gigafactories essential.'
The UK needs to ramp up battery manufacturing to support increasing demand for electric vehicles, the head of the motor industry’s trade body said today.

The call from the chief executive of The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Mike Hawes, came as latest figures showed 2020 was "a bumper year for battery and plug-in hybrid electric cars”, which together accounted for more than one in 10 new car registrations – up from around one in 30 in 2019.

Hawes told broadcaster Sky News "we must build batteries here” to support demand.

According to the SMMT, demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) grew by 185.9% to 108,205 units in 2020, while registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rose 91.2% to 66,877.

'Stronger incentives'

"Encouragingly, there is room for further growth as most of these registrations (68%) were for company cars, indicating that private buyers need stronger incentives to make the switch, as well as more investment in charging infrastructure, especially public on-street charging,” the SMMT said.

"Investment in charging infrastructure and battery gigafactories is now essential to reboot industry and meet the post-Brexit electrification challenge.”

More than 100 plug-in car models are now available to UK buyers, and manufacturers are scheduled to bring more than 35 to market in 2021 – more than the number of either petrol or diesel new models planned for the year, the SMMT said.

Last month, UK company Britishvolt named Blyth, in northeast England, as the site of its first electric vehicle battery gigafactory, with a total investment cost of £2.6bn.

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