If you’re hankering for something from Jaguar Land Rover’s stable, there’s a good chance you’ll be buying British. Most of the portfolio comes from the company’s Midlands plants. But if patriotism is more important than off-road capability, avoid the Discovery and new Defender; they’re built at JLR’s Slovakian factory. The E-Pace small SUV and the electric I-Pace are built by Magna, a contract manufacturer, in Austria.
Designed, engineered and built in Britain, Nissan’s Qashqai has long been the UK’s favourite SUV. The latest model started production at the Japanese company’s Sunderland plant this year, along with the smaller Juke and the electric Leaf.
From 2030, the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines will be banned. In July Nissan and its partner Envision got ahead of the pack by announcing £1bn of investment at the site to create the UK’s first battery gigafactory. Capable of producing nine gigawatt hours (Gwh) of batteries annually when operational in three years, that’s enough to power 100,000 cars annually. Envision has said if demand is there it could invest in taking the site to a capacity of 35Gwh.
But no matter how willing British drivers are to support the UK car industry, without the gigafactories the future is bleak. It’s estimated the UK needs gigafactories able to make 60GWh of batteries annually by 2030 for domestic firms to produce 1m electric cars. And because of the motor industry’s “make where you sell” principle, without them it’s unlikely British car plants have a bright future.
Still, there is hope – sort of. The Government has committed £500m to support the transition of the supply chain to electric cars, though this is a fraction of what the EU is committing.
Britain is known as “treasure island” in the industry. We tend to buy cars that are higher spec, and therefore more profitable for manufacturers, than most other nations.
Buying British now might just help move the needle enough to convince the global – and highly mobile – car industry that the UK remains worth investing in.
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