Batteries are the most valuable component of electric vehicles, and most of them now come from Asia. Europe is by far the largest customer for British-made cars.
British governments, with their preference for a laissez-faire economy, have so far been slow to support the domestic battery industry from the European Union. The € 2.9 billion The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it will be distributed between automakers as well as companies supplying battery materials or preparing to manufacture batteries.
“We should have battery production,” said Des Quinn, the national in charge of auto industries at Unite, Britain’s largest labor union. “There is no way the carmakers can transfer the batteries to the UK to make electric cars. They will likely move production to Europe.”
Even brands with a strong British heritage, like Mini, can take it. Car buyers no longer care much where their cars are made. BMW, which owns the Mini, makes copies of the famous Accord in China as well as in Britain. Owned by India’s Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover is Britain’s largest car manufacturer, but it also has a new plant in Slovakia.
Most of the automakers were not obligated about their British operations plans.
“We look forward to the continued success of the UK-based design, engineering and manufacturing operations that have served the European market for more than 30 years,” Nissan said in a statement.
BMW said it welcomed the Brexit deal, but added in a statement: “A full evaluation of the treaty’s significance can only be made after all the details are published.”
For fans of British cars, it is difficult to be optimistic.
“We’ve left the old part of the industry, internal combustion engines,” said Peter Wells, a professor of business administration at Cardiff University in Wales. “This will fade away in the end.”
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