The boss of one of the UK’s last battery manufacturers, AMTE Power, has threatened to build its new planned factory overseas, should the UK fail to boost subsidies to levels competitive with the European Union (EU) and US.
Allan Hollis, CEO of AMTE Power told the Financial Times that “for gigafactory-scale production, we have to consider other options,” stating “it’s well known that the incentives available in Europe and North America are significant.”
Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and a subsequent EU policy response to boost subsidies, have prompted widespread concerns in the automotive and EV sector that the UK could become uncompetitive in the electric race.
Hollis added: “That is why I’m hopeful that… any gaps that exist between what is presented as being available from different regions whether that’s across the Atlantic or across the Channel can be closed.”
Thurso-based AMTE Power, one of the oldest providers of lithium-ion batteries, currently has plans to build a £250m gigafactory in Dundee but has previously threatened to move production abroad should the UK not reduce the gap on its rivals.
In March, City A.M. revealed that the firm was looking at moving to other markets, with Hollis stating that there were lots that would like to “attract our attention,” although he said at the time that the company’s preference was to stay in the UK.
Hollis told City A.M today the group “must factor the global context into our considerations,” but stressed that “we are incredibly proud of our UK heritage at AMTE Power and we want to remain a UK business,” with Dundee still the preferred site for the group.
“Developing an end-to-end industrial strategy which accounts for the full scope of battery demand and production, from raw materials sourcing through to end of life management and recycling is essential. The UK has a fantastic opportunity but it needs to take action now.”
Of particular concern in the industry is the UK’s own manufacturing capacity. Much of the hope of the sector had been pinned on Britishvolt and its Northumberland gigafactory, however following its collapse in January, AMTE remains one of the last of Britain’s home-grown producers.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) warned in April that “with other locations – notably the US and its Inflation Reduction Act – offering vast amounts of money and a comparatively simple process, and the EU responding in kind, the UK must determine how it responds – and quickly – else we could be perceived as uncompetitive at the very time decisions are being taken.”
The UK is currently awaiting the outcome of Jaguar Land Rover-owner Tata Group’s decision to locate a multi-billion pound gigafactory in the UK over Spain, which has been touted as essential to turning the sector’s fortunes around