THE DEPARTMENT for International Trade (DIT) is trying to find a four million square foot site in order to construct a Tesla “Gigafactory” for electric cars, according to reports.
The news, first published in Property Week, comes after plans for a Gigafactory in Berlin had to be paused amid environmental concerns. German courts voiced unease about the proposed clearing of 227 acres of forest to accommodate the factory.
The UK government is now trying to find space for the mammoth plant, which would be the size of around 52 football pitches. The factory planned for Berlin was intended to produce the upcoming Model Y pure-electric crossover, as well as housing research and development facilities.
Deliveries of the seven-seat Model Y, which is based on the Model 3 saloon, have already begun in the US but are not expected to begin in the UK until next year.
CEO Elon Musk had previously said that Brexit had caused too much uncertainty for Tesla to open a factory in the UK.
A spokesperson for the DIT told Property Week: “The government is working with industry to help make the UK the location of choice to develop world-class electric vehicle technologies.
“DIT is working closely with partners to scope out sites for new investment into electric vehicle research, development and manufacturing across the UK.”
One such site is the 650-acre Gravity business park in Somerset, which is reportedly trying to secure the letting.
The government has made electric vehicles a key part of its manifesto, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announcing billions of pounds of investment in the nation’s electric charging infrastructure, as well as the road network. He said the investment would allow people to charge their cars on average three times faster than they can at present.
In its 2019 manifesto, the government noted its support for the construction of a large-scale electric car factory, promising investment in “electric vehicle infrastructure including a national plug-in network and gigafactory”.
Tesla has already launched a new gigafactory this year, officially opening its plant in Shanghai at the beginning of January. It is now considering moving its California operations to another state after Elon Musk bemoaned the treatment Tesla had undergone during the coronavirus crisis.
Confirmation of the reports would come as a second piece of good news for the British auto manufacturing industry this week, after it was announced that Nissan would not be closing its Sunderland plant as part of its plans to reduce production capacity by 20%. The news was not as good on the continent, however, with the Japanese company saying it would be shutting the doors of its plant in Barcelona.
There has also been bad news, however, as it was announced that McLaren will axe 1,200 jobs, nearly a third of its workforce, due to the effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on its finances. McLaren had an initial request for financial support from the government denied, but is reportedly still in talks with Whitehall.