Positive connections for UK battery manufacturing

The boss of Jaguar Land Rover has said that the UK needs to start making batteries to support the electric car industry. Peel Ports Insights team takes a look at what this might mean in a practical sense and how ports can help this new sector take root.

There has been a welcome series of announcements from car manufacturers recently that they will be assembling new electric and hybrid vehicles in the UK, with Jaguar Land Rover and BMW two of the latest companies to grasp the nettle and confirm production plans and schedules.

Several factors have been cited as reasons behind the timing of the announcements, but a general acceptance that lithium-ion batteries are emerging as the preferred technology seems to be driving many of these decisions. As impending decarbonisation targets deadlines become closer, and more ‘real’, there’s a definite sense that action is required.

Until now, it’s all been a bit reminiscent of the video format wars of the 1980s, when VHS and Betamax were fighting for supremacy.

The lithium-ion battery is an older technology - compared to some of its rivals - that has fallen dramatically in cost (down 85% since 2010 according to Bloomberg) and has attracted billions of dollars investment in factories across the world. This element of financial commitment also suggests that the technology will be gradually developed and improved, with longer life and greater power, rather than being replaced by a newer alternative.

As a port operator with strong connections to the automotive industry and locations across the country, we are obviously looking forward to handling the imported batteries safely and efficiently to support the operation of our customers’ supply chains.

But the comments from Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, that the UK needs to develop its own battery manufacturing capacity are also really interesting.

Port-centric manufacturing is, we believe, ideally suited to battery manufacture. Our port locations present a strong business case as they serve as a hub for importing raw materials and onward connectivity. In Liverpool’s case, our close proximity to manufacturers in the West Midlands and Merseyside, is another attraction.

If you’re looking for an ideal base to power up a new batter plant, then we’d be delighted to talk to you about our available land and facilities.

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