Report: Tesla looking to build cars in the UK

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Tesla working to identify sites for a major UK facility, according to reports.

Tesla is considering building a new gigafactory in the UK, with reports suggesting that the electric car firm is evaluating a potential site in Somerset.

A report in Property Week says the Department for International Trade (DIT) is currently looking for a four million square foot site that the Californian firm could use to build a research, development and manufacturing plant.

It is unknown how many sites have been identified, but the list is believed to include the Gravity industrial park, a ‘smart campus’ currently being developed near Bridgwater in Somerset. The 635-acre site is being built on the site of a former Royal Ordnance Factory, and is intended to attract innovative technology companies.

Tesla boss Elon Musk is reported to have visited the UK last week to discuss plans for the UK facility, although it is unclear if he would have visited the Bridgwater site.

The DIT would not confirm the reports it is working with Tesla, but did say that it is looking for manufacturing sites for electric vehicles. In a statement, it said: “The government is working with industry to help make the UK the location of choice to develop world-class electric vehicle technologies. DIT is working closely with partners to scope out sites for new investment into electric vehicle research, development and manufacturing across the UK.”

There is no confirmation on whether any UK facility would be a full car production factory or would focus on specific technology such as batteries. Last year, Tesla chose to locate its first European factory near Berlin in Germany, with Musk saying that site was chosen over the UK because of “Brexit uncertainty”.

The German site will house production of the Model 3, Model Y and batteries, and is expected to come on stream in 2021.

Tesla currently has car production plants in Arizona and California in the US, and recently opened a gigafactory in Shanghai, China, to build models for the world’s biggest car market.

James Attwood

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