Jaguar Land Rover delivers hammer blow to UK and threatens to move to EU over dispute

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Jaguar Land Rover is now reportedly considering shifting its electric car production to Slovakia unless UK ministers offer taxpayer support for a UK gigafactory. Tata Motors, which produces the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), is currently in talks with foreign battery makers Northvolt and SVolt Energy Technology to assemble their range of electric vehicles overseas.

The UK currently lacks a major electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant, and the loss of a major carmaker could signal doom for the country’s automotive industry.

This exodus from Tata Motors was triggered by a dispute over state funding for a gigafactory in the UK, which is key to Jaguar’s plans to go all-electric by 2025.

Previously, the firm announced that it would build new electric vehicles at existing factories in the Midlands, with some reports later adding that a gigafactory may also be built near Bristol or Redcar.

JLR moving its manufacturing to Slovakia could put as many as 30,000 UK jobs at risk.

However, Government sources have told the Telegraph that this threat is merely a negotiating tactic.

One insider said: “They are using this as a way to extract more money from the Government.”

During negotiations with UK ministers, Tata has narrowed down its potential sites for a new manufacturing plant to two.

According to the Telegraph, the Gravity business park near Bristol and the Teesworks site in Redcar are the frontrunners for the factory, with a final decision due by the end of June.

A spokesman for JLR said: “With our strategy for every single Jaguar Land Rover model available as a full [battery electric vehicle] by the end of the decade, we continue to explore all options around the supply of batteries.

“No decisions have been made yet.”

Experts have warned that unless battery investment is significantly boosted, carmakers may soon begin a mass exodus from the UK.

While Britain was once the world’s second-biggest auto manufacturing base, it has fallen out of the top 15 over the past few years.

Andy Palmer, the former CEO of Aston Martin said: “It’s about to be too late to preserve the UK’s role as a major automotive producer.”

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Mr Palmer, who was also instrumental in the creation of Nissan’s Leaf EV built in Sunderland said: “Unless there’s either a carrot or a stick to incentivize battery production in the UK, it’s only a matter of time before the automobile industry here becomes a niche industry that caters to brands such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley.”

A shift to electric vehicles is a key driver of this change, the UK faces a scarce supply of raw materials, along with poor government incentives and potential Brexit-related tariffs.

Despite the hundreds of millions of pounds already invested in battery-technology research, the UK has little to show for it.

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