Currently reading: Ex-Aston Martin boss: "Build batteries or lose UK car industry"
Dr Andy Palmer warns Prime Minister that ‘rules of origin’ make UK battery production vital after Brexit
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2 mins read
19 January 2021

An urgent plan to build four battery ‘gigafactories’ in the UK within the next five years is vital to avoid losing the entire UK automotive industry, according to former Aston Martin boss and Nissan product planning chief Dr Andy Palmer.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Palmer cited factors including the planned ban of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 but primarily stated that the Brexit trade deal presents a risk of “crippling tariffs” without UK-sourced batteries. 

The ‘rules of origin’ terms negotiated under the UK-EU deal stipulate that, by 2026, batteries for electric vehicles will only be allowed to contain 50% international content (components sourced from outside the EU) or face substantial tariffs bumping up the cost of the finished vehicle when exported. 

“Without electric vehicle batteries made in the UK, the country’s auto industry risks becoming an antiquated relic and overtaken by China, Japan, America and Europe”, Palmer wrote, claiming the 800,000 UK jobs linked to the automotive sector would be at risk without well-established battery production. 

“Business sense dictates that the automotive industry will move to where the batteries are, and we are facing a tight race against the clock,” he continued. 

“Leaving the European Union provides us with opportunities to compete in the industries of the future. Yet as things stand, France, Germany and the wider EU are showing their intent by making massive investments in factories that produce batteries and electric vehicle components.” 

Palmer also states that it's “critical” the UK does this while creating its own battery chemistry capabilities, rather than licensing it from abroad. And while he is “encouraged” by the first proposed gigafactory being established in Blyth, Northumberland by start-up company Britishvolt, he states that more needs to be done. 

“I am urging you to establish a ‘Gigafactory Taskforce’ with the express purpose of identifying an achievable and ambitious plan that allows the UK to build the gigafactories needed in the next five years,” Palmer wrote. “Time is of the essence - and the British auto industry depends on it.”

READ MORE:

Analysis: why the UK needs a battery gigafactory - and fast

Inside the industry: why the rule of origin is a Brexit time bomb

Explainer: what the Brexit deal means for car manufacturers

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paddyb 19 January 2021

The British government are absolutely the last people who should be running a battery factory.  Likewise any quango-type people who milk it for large salaries.  I see no reason why Jaguar Land Rover shouldn't create its own battery factory, like Tesla is doing.  JLR makes about the same number of cars per year as JLR and has an established, wealthy customer base most of whom want to make the move to EVs.

Or why doesn't Palmer himself set up a battery factory with some of his own money?  If investors see a good plan, with leaders with 'skin in the game', and support from other partners, such as the carmakers, they will be forthcoming.  There is plenty of money washing around looking for good opportunities.

If a project is not fundamentally investable then the government should give it a very wide berth.

Symanski 19 January 2021

BritishVolt is a non-starter. Something that looks more like a con when you take in to account it is a company with no history, lots of director and no workforce. It also has no intellectual property rights and no experience in building batteries. The chances of it succeeding are about nil.

 

Palmer would probably sell too many of the batteries to non-customers if he got his hands on a plant, and they would be some of the uggliest battiers around after asking Reichman to design them.

 

The message to the automotive industry is clear. Move out of Britain. It is what the Brexiters want, and they are happy for those companies to leave.

 

Just do not ask them what happened to your job.

 

 

Vertigo 19 January 2021
Yup. We've got everything we need to make local battery factories viable: lithium, manganese and copper in Cornwall, graphite in Cumbria, nickel and cobalt across the water in France and Spain. Existing sizeable workforce and education for high-tech automotive and renewable energy. 1.5 million cars produced per year, plus other vehicles and parts supply. And a market that's going to be buying a hell of a lot of batteries from 2030 onwards.

Also a country that's way below the global average for electricity CO2 emissions, so when governments start implementing taxes based on manufacturing CO2 (anyone want to bet against that happening?), the factories would be well-placed.

Hopefully companies realise this and invest accordingly, there's a lot of money at stake - and a lot of jobs.

Symanski 19 January 2021

I suspect, sadly, that the open cast mines in varies different global locations will be far more efficient and thereby cheaper to produce the raw materials required. Never mind that you need a lot of plastic in a battery too.

 

 

Paul Dalgarno 19 January 2021
Symanski wrote:

I suspect, sadly, that the open cast mines in varies different global locations will be far more efficient and thereby cheaper to produce the raw materials required. Never mind that you need a lot of plastic in a battery too.

 

 

 

Glad you're not an industry leader, the constant negativity and no can do attitude is more typical of the 1970s. Used as an excuse to have another pop at Aston Martin styling,  irrelevant to the article, and surprised you didn't lever in BMW engines at the same time. Do you ever post anything positive?

Symanski 19 January 2021
Paul Dalgarno wrote:

Glad you're not an industry leader, the constant negativity and no can do attitude is more typical of the 1970s. Used as an excuse to have another pop at Aston Martin styling,  irrelevant to the article, and surprised you didn't lever in BMW engines at the same time. Do you ever post anything positive?

 

In my field I am one of the leading figures. Dr Palmer and I have Ph.Ds. We are both directors of companies.

 

You will see my positive posts if you look for them. But I will not stand back when something as stupid as Brexit has afflicted British business as it has. Nor will I applaud repeats of the Chungwa factory gobbling up lots of tax payers money either.

 

Thank you for reading the posts, it is much appreaciated.

 

Paul Dalgarno 19 January 2021
Symanski wrote:

Paul Dalgarno wrote:

Glad you're not an industry leader, the constant negativity and no can do attitude is more typical of the 1970s. Used as an excuse to have another pop at Aston Martin styling,  irrelevant to the article, and surprised you didn't lever in BMW engines at the same time. Do you ever post anything positive?

 

In my field I am one of the leading figures. Dr Palmer and I have Ph.Ds. We are both directors of companies.

 

You will see my positive posts if you look for them. But I will not stand back when something as stupid as Brexit has afflicted British business as it has. Nor will I applaud repeats of the Chungwa factory gobbling up lots of tax payers money either.

 

Thank you for reading the posts, it is much appreaciated.

 

 

People who proclaim that they are leading figures in areas are normally Professors of things not involved in the real world, and are not normally responsible for P&L or businesses. Leaders in fields certainly don't have time to come onto car websites and debate. 

Symanski 19 January 2021
Paul Dalgarno wrote:

People who proclaim that they are leading figures in areas are normally Professors of things not involved in the real world, and are not normally responsible for P&L or businesses. Leaders in fields certainly don't have time to come onto car websites and debate. 

 

I am not a professor.

 

 

 

scotty5 20 January 2021
Symanski wrote:

I am not a professor.

People come to this website to read about the motor industry, you on the other hand, seemingly take every single opportunity to voice your negativity about Brexit.

Director my a55. A successful director looks for solutions to problems, you don't seem to have any solution. What type of business are you in, liquidation? If you are a director then obviously you're the sole employee.

BritishVolt is a non-starter. Something that looks more like a con when you take in to account it is a company with no history, lots of director and no workforce. It also has no intellectual property rights and no experience in building batteries

Successful people like Richard Branson had zero experience too but what they did have were vision and endless positivity. You have neither.    

 

 

Symanski 20 January 2021
scotty5 wrote:

People come to this website to read about the motor industry, you on the other hand, seemingly take every single opportunity to voice your negativity about Brexit.

 

Tell me that Brexit isn't going to significantly aflict the British car industry.

 

I told you the solution to avoiding the damage caused by Brexit. It was to stop Brexit. Nobody was smart enough to admit it was a stupid idea. And if you want a good laugh, look at the fishermen. They were told to vote for Brexit by their own federation and now they're complaining they can't sell to their biggest market! How stupid was that? They deserve all they get.

 

As for Branson, he's had many failures in his time, but he has the advantage that he can afford failures. Or he could until the pandemic, but that is a very much different and huge problem for the holiday and travel industries he is investing in.

 

But you have to go back to how Branson started with record shops. He invested small and took time to build the business up. Not starting from nothing as Britishvolt seems to be doing. Even later businesses were carefully calculated to be an investment more than a gamble.

 

Even his space program was in partnership with someone who had the technical abilities in composites. Rail he parnered with Stagecoach.

 

The difference between Branson and Britishvolt is stark.

 

 

CarNut170 20 January 2021
Symanski wrote:

Tell me that Brexit isn't going to significantly aflict the British car industry.

I told you the solution to avoiding the damage caused by Brexit. It was to stop Brexit. Nobody was smart enough to admit it was a stupid idea. And if you want a good laugh, look at the fishermen. They were told to vote for Brexit by their own federation and now they're complaining they can't sell to their biggest market! How stupid was that? They deserve all they get.

As for Branson, he's had many failures in his time, but he has the advantage that he can afford failures. Or he could until the pandemic, but that is a very much different and huge problem for the holiday and travel industries he is investing in.

But you have to go back to how Branson started with record shops. He invested small and took time to build the business up. Not starting from nothing as Britishvolt seems to be doing. Even later businesses were carefully calculated to be an investment more than a gamble.

Even his space program was in partnership with someone who had the technical abilities in composites. Rail he parnered with Stagecoach.

The difference between Branson and Britishvolt is stark.

 

The issue appears to be, you're quite oblivious to the damage being in the EU had on the British car industry.

The trade deal with Japan the other year alone put thousands of UK jobs at risk. A deal our objections to were ignored upon. A repeatable story while in the EU. If Germany wants it - it happens.

The same can be said of the corrosive nature of being joined at the hip with out largest competitor in Europe - Germany.

 

Now, will there be negatives from Brexit for the UK car industry? Undoubtedly.

Are they larger than the negative effect 40 years of being in the EU had on the car industry? Definitively not.

The chance to become a world-leader once again is there, slim - perhaps.

But it did not exist in the EU. In the EU, the UK car industy's extinction was guaranteed.

 

As for the discussion at hand, ref: Gigafactories - we have some of the best-quality mineral deposits in the world. It's one of the reasons we even had an empire. We should capitalise on that, there is potential.

Brandson had a good head start, a smooth operator. So did Musk.

There's from in the Electric vehicle space for upstarts to make headway.

BritishVolt? - We'll see.

But certainly gigafactories need to happen - even if BritishVolts ultimately ends up under new ownership - having the capability in the UK is essential.

Marc 20 January 2021
Symanski wrote:

Paul Dalgarno wrote:

Glad you're not an industry leader, the constant negativity and no can do attitude is more typical of the 1970s. Used as an excuse to have another pop at Aston Martin styling,  irrelevant to the article, and surprised you didn't lever in BMW engines at the same time. Do you ever post anything positive?

 

In my field I am one of the leading figures. Dr Palmer and I have Ph.Ds. We are both directors of companies.

 

You will see my positive posts if you look for them. But I will not stand back when something as stupid as Brexit has afflicted British business as it has. Nor will I applaud repeats of the Chungwa factory gobbling up lots of tax payers money either.

 

Thank you for reading the posts, it is much appreaciated.

 

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