MAYOR Andy Street says he wants to be known as the mayor of the UK’s ‘motor city’, as he set out his vision for the construction of a gigafactory in the West Midlands.

In recent weeks both Labour and the Conservative Party have set out proposals for a series of gigafactories across the UK, as part of the drive toward cleaner energy sources.

A gigafactory would be used to produce batteries to power the next generation of electric vehicles, with the mayor insisting that such factories are the key to ensuring the motor industry continues to provide thousands of jobs in the region.

However, while the Conservative Party favours building one of these factories in the West Midlands, the Labour Party has called for sites in South Wales, Stoke and Swindon instead.

And, writing for the Conservative Home website, Mr Street says that the business case for a factory in the West Midlands can not be ignored in favour of politics.

“The temptation to use key investments to win votes must be resisted,” he said.

“We must learn from the history of the UK automotive sector – and we must listen to those within the industry when they speak.

“Here in the West Midlands we have an automotive cluster, based around the flagship that is Jaguar Land Rover. We have a huge network of supply and support firms that have developed over decades, with a track record of transforming to meet the changing demands of the sector. We also have the foundation industries that make the metals and materials that underpin vehicle manufacture at more than 20 sites.

“In terms of battery technology, the Government has already played an important role in helping make the West Midlands competitive in this race, investing £108million in a state-of-the-art Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry, and creating the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. In fact, the West Midlands is the UK centre of the driverless car research with vehicles already being tested on the streets of Coventry and the region’s motorways. 

“At a recent CBI speech at Conference I set out my vision, as a businessman, of making the West Midlands Motor City again – albeit this time with an electric motor.

“The business case is there, and business must beat politics.”