Unite has welcomed news that British car manufacturers are embracing an all-electric future, with two major automotive firms announcing plans this week to exclusively produce electric cars within the next few years.
The announcements come as a new survey has shown that British motorists believe electric cars will outnumber diesel vehicles by 2030.
Jaguar Land Rover
On Monday (February 15) Jaguar Land Rover announced its new Reimagine strategy, which aims to promote and develop Jaguar as an all-electric luxury brand from 2025.
As part of the strategy, there will be no plant closures or compulsory redundancies.
Commenting, Unite national officer for the automotive industries Des Quinn said, “Unite understands the need for a re-evaluation of the direction of travel for the Jaguar Land Rover brands and the challenges facing the business given the events of recent years.
“These pressures included the slump in global automotive sales; the fallout of ‘Dieselgate’ and tighter regulation around emissions which have been compounded by lack of confidence due to the Brexit process and the effects of the worldwide pandemic,” he added.
“For those reasons, we welcome the Reimagine programme and the vision for the company in the future.”
Quinn emphasised the assurances given on jobs, and warned that the union’s support of the strategy will be conditional on those promises being kept.
“A green and clean future for the JLR and the planet is ‘a must’ so sustainability will be key in everything we do, including world class product development and generating manufacturing employment,” he said.
“The Reimagine strategy lays the foundation for an electric future, and the investment and advent of new technology are good news in challenging economic times.”
Meanwhile, Ford made a similar announcement only days later on Wednesday (February 17).
Ford Europe announced that its passenger vehicles were moving to all-electric by 2030 and it was investing $1 billion in a new electric vehicle manufacturing centre in Cologne.
Ford operates two major manufacturing sites in the UK, diesel engine production at Dagenham and transmissions production at Halewood. It also operates a large research and development facility in Dunton, Essex.
Quinn likewise welcomed the news and called on Ford to commit to new investment in the UK.
“Given the continuing popularity of its cars with the British public, we believe that now is the time for Ford’s senior executives to look to place new investment in the UK,” he said.
“The dedicated UK workforce has suffered closures and job losses in recent years to help reshape the company and they now need to be rewarded for that loyalty, especially given the enormous value of the UK market to Ford’s operations,” Quinn added.
“Ford remains a major global player in a profitable market. It has been a market leader for decades, both in terms of passenger and commercial vehicles.
“We expect them to announce future propulsion systems to power the vehicles of tomorrow to be sourced in to the UK.”
As more and more car manufacturers embrace a move to all-electric vehicles, new manufacturing possibilities have been unleashed with the future construction of electric car battery factories, also known as gigafactories.
Coventry Council and Regional City Airports announced this week – in more good news for an all-electric vehicle future — that they have teamed up in a joint venture to seek planning permission for the gigafactory by the end of 2021. The joint venture seeks to attract a manufacturer for the site so that production can begin by 2025.
Coventry Council said that it expects the future gigafactory to bring £2bn in investment in the region and create thousands of highly skilled jobs.
The latest announcement follows news in December that startup Britishvolt would be investing £2.6bn in a future gigafactory in Wansbeck, Northumberland. Britishvolt has secured rights to the site in Blyth, not far from Sunderland, where the Nissan car plant is located.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner hailed the news of the new gigafactory.
“Creating thousands of skilled well-paid jobs, this factory would be the first of seven battery plants required across the UK to support the transition of automotive – the jewel in the crown of our manufacturing sector – from the combustion engine to full electric vehicles,” he said.
“Government must now step up to provide direct support and investment of its own, taking a stake in this exciting development. It must also ensure that an integrated strategy – one that takes in energy supply, infrastructure and the manufacture of associated cathodes, anodes and cells – is in place.
“This opportunity to bring together the very best of West Midlands manufacturers and suppliers with the world’s leading battery manufacturers cannot be missed,” Turner continued. “Nor can its importance be overstated to the future of the sector.
“This project is crucial to thousands of jobs, local communities and the national economy, as we recover and rebuild from Covid and tackle the climate emergency head on.”
By Hajera Blagg