Elon Musk said Brexit Britain is “too risky” to explain why Tesla will build its first European Gigafactory in Germany rather than the UK.
The revelation came as Boris Johnson delivered his “first keystone speech” of the general election campaign at electric taxi makers LEVC in Coventry. The company, Johnson said, “represents the future”.
Musk, who also announced the “successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites” from his SpaceX company this week, told Auto Bild, the sister paper to Auto Express: “Brexit made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK.”
The news is a big blow to Britain’s burgeoning electric vehicle and power industry, more so given Musk said in 2014 he had plans to build a research and development base in the UK. That too, Musk told Auto Bild this week, will also now be based in Germany.
In a tweet, Musk said his company will “build batteries, powertrains and vehicles” at the Berlin based factory – the company’s fourth such plant following the first in Reno, Nevada, second in Buffalo, New York and the third near Shanghai, China which is currently under construction and nearing completion.
Latest blow to British car industry
Tesla’s announcement follows a series of blows to the British car manufacturing industry in 2019 that saw Nissan announce it will not build a new model in Sunderland, Honda announce the closure of its Swindon plant and Ford the closure of its Bridgend factory.
Vauxhall’s parent company also warned earlier this year that its Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire could close “if conditions are bad” because of Brexit, putting 1,000 jobs at risk.
A decision on building the new Astra model at Ellesmere Port will depend on the final Brexit agreement given 80% of vehicles currently made at the Cheshire plant are exported to Europe and 75% of the component parts to make the vehicles are imported.
‘End the groundhoggery of Brexit’
Speaking at the LEVC electric taxi factory in Coventry, Johnson said there was a “pent-up tidal wave” of investment into the UK waiting for Brexit to be “done”.
An extract from his speech, released in advance, said: “The UK is admired and respected around the world but people are baffled by our debate on Brexit and they cannot understand how this great country can squander so much time and energy on this question and how we can be so hesitant about our future.”
He said if the Conservatives win a working majority “we can get parliament working for you, we can get out of the rut. We can end the groundhoggery of Brexit.”