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Clean automotive sector will be ‘at the heart of UK industrial strategy’

Business and Energy Industry Secretary Greg Clark has clearly signalled that making Britain a world-leading hub for electric and next-generation vehicles is to be placed at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy. And, speaking at a meeting of political and automotive leaders from the Midlands at the University of Warwick, Chief Executive of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Ralf Speth said that his company would like to build an electric car plant and a battery factory in Britain – according to a report from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP). 

Greg Clark said the automotive sector, particularly electric vehicles (EVs), driverless cars and battery storage, will be an ‘emblematic area of focus’ and is going to be ‘one of the big features of the world and Britain’s industrial policy during the weeks, months and years ahead.’

The government is expected to announce an outline of its industrial strategy in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, JLR’s Ralph Speth said that the company plans to double its global workforce of 40,000 as it expands into EVs and battery technology. He said: ‘We want to build our EVs in the West Midlands, in the home of our design and engineering. But there is a huge problem – we don’t currently have the capacity to produce them at scale nor at speed; the costs of doing business in the UK are high compared to other countries; and access to the right skills and energy infrastructure remains the single greatest challenge to Jaguar Land Rover.’

The government has said it will introduce measures to further encourage the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) in its response to a critical report from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) which suggested the UK is falling behind targets to switch Britain’s car fleet to electric vehicles – according to a report from the LowCVP. 

According to the guideline target recommended by the Government’s Committee on Climate Change, ultra-low emission vehicles such as electric cars should make up 9% of the fleet by 2020. However, current forecasts from the Department for Transport show the figure by the end of the decade is likely to achieve about half the target level. Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £375mn in additional support over five years to accelerate the ULEV transition in his first and last Autumn Statement last year.

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