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Government releases £23m for EV battery development

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Government hopes extra cash will keep the UK ‘at the forefront’ of electric car development amid bleak news for country’s auto industry

The government has awarded an extra £23m in funding to help accelerate the development of electric batteries in the UK, as it battles to keep the country’s auto sector at the cutting edge of the global electric vehicle (EV) revolution.

The extra cash will be awarded to businesses as part of the government’s Faraday Battery Challenge, as Ministers work to “maintain the UK as a world leader in the latest technologies and emerging markets” for the auto sector.

Carmakers say they are struggling with the scale of the challenge to re-orient their business towards electric cars, which involves developing new drive train technologies, re-fitting factories, and re-training workers on electric assembly.

The uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU is adding to their worries, with Ford warning a no deal exit would be “catastrophic” for the auto industry.

The government hopes the extra funding will help shore up the UK’s reputation as a good place for auto industry investment. 

Jaguar Land Rover will receive a share of the funding to work on maximising the performance of its EV batteries, while mining consultancy Wardell Armstrong will also receive cash to explore the potential business case for mining lithium for EV batteries in Cornwall. A project to investigate the use of artificial intelligence in battery manufacturing also secured new funding.

“We are committed to ensuring our world-leading automotive sector can flourish,” said Business Secretary Greg Clark. “These exciting new projects will build on the UK’s reputation for excellence, our rich heritage in the auto industry and pave the way for advances towards a cleaner economy.”

The news follows a bumpy week for the UK’s auto sector. Last Wednesday Ford announced plans to close its engine plant in Bridgend in autumn 2020, blaming “changing customer demand and cost” for the decision. It followed Honda’s announcement earlier this year that it will close its Swindon plant in 2021, with the company citing the “significant challenges of electrification”.

Industry analysts have warned that with the EV revolution already forcing auto firms to review their manufacturing bases the uncertainty caused by Brexit could trigger further closures.

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Source: – Business Green
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