JLR is in talks with Swedish cell maker Northvolt and the Germany-based unit of China’s Svolt to supply batteries for a range of electric vehicles to be built in its Nitra, Slovakia, plant, Bloomberg reported this week.
Such a decision would be a blow to UK start-up Britishvolt, which hopes to start building batteries in its Blyth, Northumberland plant by 2023, as well as those of Envision AESC, which is planning a major expansion of its Sunderland battery plant alongside customer Nissan. It could also stop dead plans for a battery plant given the green light for construction at the former Coventry airport.
JLR told Autocar: "No decision has been made in terms of where we source our batteries." So far, the company has been tight lipped on battery sourcing ahead of its broader rollout of EVs, starting in 2024 with the first electric Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
Currently the largest car manufacturer in the UK, JLR could choose to spread its battery purchasing to a number of companies as it secures supply, meaning that it could yet approach UK firms for batteries destined for cars built in its Solihull and Merseyside plants.
Envision AESC, the company supplying packs for the new Nissan Leaf replacement on course to be built in Sunderland, has already held talks with JLR about supplying packs, its CEO Lei Zhang told Autocar last year, without revealing how far they’d progressed.
JLR is the plum target for UK plants because its independence means it can plot its own course for batteries, as well as needing significant-sized packs for its larger vehicles.