The publicly funded UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) tasked with developing “cutting-edge” electric vehicle batteries is nearing completion, with most of its manufacturing equipment set to be commissioned by the end of the year.
The 18,500sq ft Coventry facility serves as a precursor to a large-scale battery Gigafactory in Britain. It's part of a West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy designed to drive growth in the region and which includes a number of investments in future vehicle technologies.
The UKBIC can be accessed "by any organisation with existing or new battery technology if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK". Companies will have the opportunity to prove their products - be they component parts or entire battery packs - can be manufactured on a commercially viable scale.
The UKBIC was confirmed in 2017 as part of the UK government’s Faraday Battery Challenge and established as a partnership between Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Warwick.
Last year, the government bolstered its initial £80 million investment in the factory with a further £28m injection, which is being used to develop battery-testing facilities and to train staff in battery production.
Business minister Andrew Stephenson previously said that government investment in the UKBIC was part of plans to make the UK a world leader in zero-emissions vehicles.
“Putting the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero-emissions vehicles is at the heart of our plans, creating jobs, growth and opportunity across the country,” said Stephenson. He added that the investment would “support the UK’s world-leading automotive industry to compete internationally, attract further investment and establish supply chains for new electric vehicle battery design and development.”
The West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy calls for the region to play a key role in driving investment in EV manufacturing and to play a leading role in UK trials of connected autonomous vehicles.
The strategy calls for the West Midlands to deploy the first fully operational connected autonomous vehicles ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Birmingham.