Mayor heads to China to meet potential gigafactory investors
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has been to China to meet potential gigafactory investors as part of the WMCA’s plans to build a major battery production plant in the West Midlands.
The WMCA, spearheaded by Mr Street, is pushing to make sure the UK’s first gigafactory is built in the West Midlands.
The region is already home to car manufacturing giant Jaguar Land Rover, which has pledged to build its new all-electric XJ at its Castle Bromwich plant, and UKBIC, a research centre for state-of-the-art batteries which is under production following substantial investment from the WMCA.
As part of the region’s ambition to win the race to have the first gigafactory built in the West Midlands, Mr Street visited potential investors in China as part of a regional visit to the country.
Mr Street was joined on the trip by representatives from across the West Midlands, including Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward.
The Mayor said: “It is no secret that the new Government will soon have to make a decision on where the UK’s first gigafactory is going to be built. Location is everything when making such monumental decisions in industrial investment, and it is crucial that the West Midlands wins this argument.
“I believe, as the heartland of the UK’s automotive industry, that our region is the rightful home for a gigafactory. Employing more than 46,500 people, the West Midlands has an automotive cluster that features innovation centres, research centres, autonomous vehicle test beds, and major production plants.
“It was great to meet potential investors in China to discuss what more the West Midlands needs to do to attract a facility of this size. The WMCA and I will now continue to lobby government extensively to make sure we win the gigafactory race.”
Last month’s visit to China was the first time that senior leaders from the West Midlands’ three major cities visited the country as part of a sales mission to collectively promote the region’s investment opportunities.
The trip showcased the West Midlands to potential investors and strengthened existing relationships with key companies and decision makers. It was led by the West Midlands Growth Company, which is responsible for attracting more visitors, investment, businesses and events to the region.
Alongside the Mayor’s gigafactory discussions, other meetings included Geely, owner of the Coventry-based London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), Fosun, owner of Wolves, and Solihull-based Changan Automotive.