Tesla relocated to Manchester: Does the Autumn Statement explain why?
The latest news from the world of EVs
Good morning, I’m Tom Riley and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… Tesla UK recently relocated to Manchester, putting them 15 minutes from a potential gigafactory site, and also within the Chancellor’s latest investment zone. Happy coincidence?
Elsewhere… The key bits from the Autumn Statement, including action on planning, and also a new battery strategy.
As ever, if you have any thoughts or ideas, please do get in touch. Likewise, I’ll be in and out of the London EV Show this week, so if you are there, hit me up. To do so, simply reply to this email.
Tesla UK has relocated its office to Manchester – 15mins from a gigafactory site
Summary: Last week I suggested that, given the new funding being provided to advanced manufacturing in the UK, the blossoming bromance between Sunak and Musk, and the potential solution to the Brexit automotive trade challenges, Tesla could end up picking the UK for its next gigafactory. If you missed it, I wrote an article for Autocar explaining why here.
So far… It’s all quiet on any news. However, the Autumn Statement did provide further reinforcements for why this could legitimately work for Tesla. In the main, the new permanent full expensing – which will let companies like Tesla claim 100% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investment – alongside the billions of government funding.
BUT… One policy caught my eye, which was the newly announced investment zones for advanced manufacturing. These were East Midlands, West Midlands, and Greater Manchester. These have very healthy freeport-style tax reliefs and further government investment potential.
Office move… The reason that policy is interesting is, in September, Tesla moved its UK registered office from central London to an address in Manchester. It seems to be a large office which was previously occupied by Mercedes-Benz. At the same time, the carmaker also appointed Joseph Gruber, VP of Tax at Tesla, as a director at the UK company.
Now… Obviously, this could be pure coincidence, and perhaps one should not read much into it. Though, this new office places Tesla extremely close to Manchester’s Atom Valley. What is that I hear you say? Well, it’s Greater Manchester’s advanced manufacturing hub.
So what? Look, Watson, let me conclude. The final interesting fact is that, before Tesla chose Berlin for its first European factory a few years ago, the carmaker was actually in negotiations with Manchester about taking an Atom Valley location. The site Tesla was considering is called The Northern Gateway – which is the largest site of the three available. The edge of The Northern Gateway site is just 15 minutes from Tesla’s newly registered office.
Clearly… Tesla obviously already knows Manchester well, and perhaps now with huge incentives compared to before, the runner-up last time can take first place. Tesla picking Atom Valley would certainly be a boon for Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham. Now to wait patiently and see.
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Autumn Statement EV highlights…
In short… Outside the business investment incentive announcements, which have already led to the big news from Nissan that they will build more models in the UK (meaning £2bn for UK Plc), I wasn’t expecting much for the EV sector. Though, there were a couple of nice surprises. Namely…
Action on connections… The government is going to reform the grid connection process to cut waiting times, and free up 100GW of capacity. According to policy papers, this will help the majority of projects to get connection dates with “no wait” and reduce overall connection delays to no more than six months from five years. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, plus Ofgem, have published a 100 page action plan.
Action on planning… The government promised to consult on amending the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure the planning system prioritises the rollout of EV charge points, especially new charging hubs.
However, the EV forecast was downgraded… Alongside the Chancellor’s speech, the Office of Budget Responsibility published their analysis. Within it, they suggested that because of the government’s pushback from 2030 to 2035, the projected take up of EVs will half from previous expectations – the new analysis suggest it will be 38% adoption by 2027, versus 67% at the same point at it’s last analysis pre-2030 change. Read more.
Finally… Not quite linked to the Autumn Statement – though was something I’d pulled out last week in my newsletter – it seems France has finally backed plans to delay tariffs on UK-EU automotive trade from 1 January 2024. They had been resisting against fellow EU member states like Germany. Now the question will be how long the delay is, but it seems 99% certain there will be an agreed delay. Read more.
UK publishes battery strategy
Background: It was long expected, but finally on Sunday the government published its UK Battery Strategy. You can find it here, and a press release about it here. It was published as part of the UK Advanced Manufacturing plan (which is here).
What’s the headline? The main one is… it’s a bit weird they published it over the weekend. Not exactly business friendly to do it on the day of roast dinners and slobbing out. Alas, inside there were interesting policies, such as on developing new technologies – we do R&D very well in the UK, so seems wise to leverage – and also there was significant mention of recycling.
On the latter… There was one particular paragraph (below) about the challenge and opportunity for the circular economy.
The UK currently has an emerging capacity to recycle lithium-ion batteries, with most EV batteries being dismantled and shipped to Europe. Recyclus Group, based in Wolverhampton, is the country's first and only industrial-scale recycling facility. It is licenced to turn 22,000 tonnes of spent lithium-ion batteries, taken from a range of sources including electric cars, each year into black mass without using water, and has a low carbon footprint. According to Innovate UK, 150,000 tonnes of waste will need to be recycled each year by 2035. The APC estimates that three large material recovery recycling facilities will be needed to process 10,000 tonnes of waste cell material per year. This means that multiple recycling and recovery facilities will be needed by 2040.
Reactions… There have been mixed but largely positive responses from businesses. Jeremy Wrathall, CEO of Cornish Lithium, said: “It clearly identifies the opportunities to be had by becoming a world leader in this vital rapidly developing area of industry and manufacturing.” Jonathan Carrier, CEO and co-founder, of Allye, a battery start-up, didn’t totally agree with the big focus on R&D: “We believe the UK needs to move beyond the R&D of batteries and address the entire lifecycle of batteries.” Richard Taylor, Founder of Green Lithium: “It's a positive step forward in the right direction, and the government deserves recognition for listening to the industry and providing support to scale up different sections of the battery supply chain in the UK.” See here.
Finally… last week before the battery strategy was published, a meeting note from July, chaired by Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, was published on “What are the technical and policy barriers to increasing EV battery recycling capacity in the UK?”. See here.
Top EV picks last week…
💷 The Scottish Futures Trust has today published an insights note about public EV tariffs across Scotland. You can find a post about it here. The biggest outtake to me is the number of local authorities that have overstay/idle fees, but also how few offer peak and off-peak tariffs.
⚡ At the end of last week OVO, the energy company, acquired Bonnet, the EV charging app that enables drivers to access more than 400,000 chargers across the UK and Europe. Read more.
💡 Middlesborough has shared plans to install up to 160 charge points within lampposts using ubitricity. Read more.
🔌 Lotus has this morning revealed a new rapid
car charging station that will boast speeds of 450kW. The design is expected to reach Europe in Q2 2024. Read more.
🏠 Charging without a driveway remains a contentious issue, especially with those underserved by on-street furniture like lampposts. One solution is cable gullies, and Berkshire is the latest council to launch a trial. They are working with Kerbo Charge. Read more.
🚧 While the news of cutting red tape on planning is great news for deploying more chargers, it’s worth remembering a recent story from Portsmouth, where the city’s some 100 chargers have had to be disconnected over safety concerns about their installation. Read more.
Bonus… If your company does a regular quiz, here’s an idea for you. Pages 57-58 of the battery strategy lists tens and tens of EV/energy related acronyms. How many can people guess?
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