The UK battery factory, part of Tata’s plans to invest £4 billion in producing batteries for Jaguar Land Rover’s electric vehicles, is poised to involve AESC, a battery manufacturer under Chinese ownership. Despite concerted efforts by Tata and government officials to keep AESC’s role undisclosed, indications suggest its pivotal contribution.

Although the announcement lacked explicit confirmation of AESC’s participation, the Chinese-owned battery maker, previously known as Envision AESC, is reportedly linked to the project. However, neither Tata nor ministers have publicly verified AESC’s involvement. In response to queries about AESC’s participation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak deflected, emphasizing it was a matter for Tata to address.

The political context adds an additional layer of sensitivity. Given the scepticism among several MPs towards China, especially concerning financial matters, any suggestion that part of the £500 million state aid and incentives for Tata’s giga-factory could support a Chinese entity is potentially contentious.

Tata’s official statement announcing the Somerset battery factory highlighted its new global battery business, Agratas, as the force behind designing, developing, and manufacturing batteries at the giga-factory. Tata addressed Envision’s potential role cryptically, stating that ongoing discussions regarding the giga-factory wouldn’t be disclosed.

However, sources privy to the project’s details have indicated that Envision’s AESC plays a significant role. According to individuals familiar with the matter, AESC will provide the technology for the initial battery generation slated for production at the facility. On the other hand, Tata’s Agratas is reportedly focused on developing proprietary technology for future applications, albeit in the early stages of development.

Moreover, Envision’s AESC is positioned to supply batteries for upcoming electric Jaguar models starting in 2025, according to insiders. These batteries are expected to originate from the AESC battery factory located in Sunderland, which maintains ties to Nissan’s adjacent car facility. This arrangement will serve as a stopgap solution to address the battery supply gap while Tata’s giga-factory takes shape. The giga-factory is projected to become operational during the latter half of the decade.

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