Leading names gather at Coventry & Warwickshre Automotive Dinner
Leading names in from inside and outside the Coventry & Warwickshire auto sector, were brought together earlier this month at the Coventry & Warwickshire Auto Dinner, which took place at MIRA Technology Institute, the new skills facility opened last year on the outskirts of Nuneaton.
The event included over 70 guests from 50 major local auto names such as BMW, Geely London Electric Vehicle Company, Ricardo and GKN, as well as the universities, the trade body SMMT and the Advanced Propulsion Centre.
Jeff Pratt, the managing director of the new UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), was the keynote speaker at the event, and laid out the UK’s ambitions for supporting a strong and sustainable battery industry, and UKBIC’s role in this, when the centre opens next year at a site on the Warwick District/ Coventry border near Coventry Airport.
He said: “I believe it is the Faraday investment in the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre which has firmly announced the UK’s ambitions for supporting a strong and sustainable battery industry. One that can support the growing and evolving battery demands of our automotive and other industries."
The £129m UKBIC is a new 20,000 sqm facility to develop the latest battery technology and will provide a boost to the UK’s ambition to lead the world in the development of zero emission vehicles as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and the Faraday Battery Challenge.
A study recently published by the Faraday Institution has shown that UK and European demand for UK-produced batteries could reach between 60 and 200 GWh per year by 2040. This would result in the equivalent need for between four and 13 ‘gigafactories’ (large, high volume battery manufacturing plants).
With the existing auto supply chain here, including major OEMs BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Geely brands LEVC, Lotus and Polestar, and a unique R&D cluster of universities, catapult centres and now UKBIC, the region is in an excellent position to attract one or more of these new gigafactories.
The annual dinner is an opportunity for the local industry to come together to discuss these opportunities, collaborate and raise the profile of the local cluster to a wider national and international audience. It is organised by Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), and the headline sponsorship this year came from law firm Shakespeare Martineau.
Other speakers included Tony Harper, Challenge Director of the Faraday Battery Challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); Derek Benfield, Technical Director at Envision AESC UK, a major battery manufacturer that owns the plant in Sunderland producing batteries for the Nissan Leaf; Adam McGiveron, Partner and Head of Manufacturing at Shakespeare Martineau; and Marion Plant OBE, board director at the CWLEP and chair of the CWLEP’s productivity and skills business group, who is also principal and CEO of the North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, which leads MIRA Technology Institute.
Marion spoke about the importance of developing skills for the next generation which is one of the CWLEP’s major priorities.
“Advanced manufacturing and engineering is one of our key sectors in engaging with employers who can work with schools and colleges to help with their careers strategies and provide work experience,” Marion said.