Bentley’s chief executive’s ‘concerns’ about UK’s inability to attract battery investment

Bentley’s chief executive has said that the UK’s inability to attract investment from large battery manufacturers or electric vehicle startups is “concerning”.

The government must address energy costs in order to attract investment and compete against other countries that offer incentives “an order-of-magnitude more attractive than UK”.

The Bentley CEO’s comments coincide with governments around the world competing to attract battery manufacturing facilities in order to protect themselves as they slowly switch to electric vehicles.

He said that companies such as Bentley owner Volkswagen choose “Canada, Spain, Poland, Belgium, or even Germany – one of the most expensive markets in Europe”, to locate their battery factories.

He added that in these countries, “the incentives offered and publicised are orders of magnitude more appealing than the UK”.

In a prerecorded Future of the Car Summit interview this week, the Bentley CEO said: “It is surprising, if you will, that no [electric car] manufacturer or battery maker has chosen the UK as an investment location over any other.”

He added that “nobody has yet chosen to invest in green mobility beyond incumbents” in the UK.

The event, which will take place in London starting Tuesday, will include the CEOs or senior leaders of Ferrari, Geely and Renault, Nissan, Volkswagen Stellantis Ford Aston Martin as well as electric vehicle start ups Polestar Fisker.

The UK has held discussions with new start-ups such as Rivian and Tesla. However, none of these companies have decided to build factories there. BYD, a Chinese company, said earlier this year that it would not consider building a factory in the UK because of the decision to leave EU.

Envision, a Chinese battery company, is building an expanded battery plant in Sunderland for Nissan. It is also expected to work together with India’s Tata to find a location for Jaguar Land Rover to build its factory, which will choose between the UK or Spain.

Hallmark stated that the government should “offer affordable energy prices and something at least approaching equivalent incentives in order to get things rolling in terms of inward investments,” adding that UK energy is about a third more expensive than in mainland Europe.

Bentley is committed to producing its future electric vehicles in the UK, as part of an investment of EUR3bn into its Crewe facility. However, it plans to import batteries.

Hallmark stated that the brand’s production of 15,000 cars per year is too small to support a battery plant in Britain. Hallmark said that it would be difficult to get the critical mass to build a gigafactory in the UK unless there was a large player who had spare capacity and could meet their own needs.