The UK’s aspiration to be a global leader in the transition to electric vehicles has taken some significant steps forward over the past month.
Nissan’s recent announcement that it will build a Gigafactory at the company’s Sunderland site is being heralded as the dawn of a new era for the automotive sector in the UK. The plant will produce batteries for a new electric vehicle the company also plans to build in the North East.
Meanwhile, in North West England, Stellantis has announced a £100 million investment at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire to build electric cars and vans under the company’s Vauxhall, Opel, Peugeot and Citroën marques.
The new facility will be the first large plant in the UK dedicated exclusively to electric vehicles, but it’s unlikely to be the only one. As global trends towards electric vehicles continue to gather pace and the UK works its way towards a ban on the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, there is an urgent need for upscaling of electric vehicle production.
But increased EV capacity is not the only challenge facing vehicle manufacturers. If drivers are to be persuaded that a switch to EV is the right choice for them, the vehicles on offer also need to be stylish, functional and affordable. Consequently, batteries need to be compact, capable of powering vehicles for extended periods on a single charge and fast-charging. They also need to be available within a viable supply chain distance of car production to keep manufacturing costs and lead times down.
It’s for all these reasons that the announcements from Nissan and Sellantis over the past few weeks are not only good news for the economy and the automotive sector in the UK; they also look set to be the catalyst for further investment and innovation.
As business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, commented when Nissan announced the new Gigafactory and electric model for Sunderland, the move will begin a “virtuous cycle” attracting other battery makers and electric vehicle manufacturers to the UK market. Battery and EV manufacturing are inter-dependent sectors and each will provide a catalyst for attracting investment in the other.
The UK’s traditional strength in the automotive sector, coupled with a focus on high tech industries and engineering, means that there is fantastic potential for existing operators, new players and their entire supply chain.
Like any transformation, however, the UK’s move towards becoming an EV powerhouse involves a period of transition. The sector will require new facilities, equipment and infrastructure to enable research and development, manufacture of vehicles, batteries and their components, and logistics. The success of this transition will rely on the delivery of new facilities against mission critical timelines, including the decommissioning of redundant manufacturing technologies and the installation of new equipment. It will also require the development of renewable energy infrastructure to deliver the green virtuous cycle of sustainability, alongside the circular economic benefits.
Track Record in Automotive
As AIS Vanguard, we have a long track record of working within the automotive sector and its supply chain, giving us a strong understanding of the commercial and operational drivers that characterise improvement programmes in the sector. It is an industry that embraces constant change and new innovation, and our role has always been to support operators as they implement projects that harness all that potential.
What that means for this new era of EV production, battery plants and the wider EV supply chain is that we have the agile approach, industry knowledge and in-house resource to provide tailored support whenever and wherever we are needed; in the UK or further afield.
From supporting customers with logistics, through to decommissioning, heavy lifting, equipment moves, installation and commissioning, we have the expertise, experience and in-house fleet of lifting equipment to add value and ensure projects are carried out safely and efficiently. Our capabilities include delivery of turnkey projects as principal contractor, with full CDM responsibility, along with mechanical and electrical engineering services and robotics installation.
As the UK continues to build on its EV industry, the opportunities to innovate, collaborate and deliver greener solutions for contemporary lifestyles will grow with it, and the AIS Vanguard team will be on hand to help deliver those goals.