Chippenham-based renewable energy supplier Good Energy has joined calls to encourage Amazon-backed car company Rivian to set up shop in the South West.
The California-based company specialises in making electric cars including larger SUVs and is apparently looking for a large base in the UK or Europe from which to manufacture its vehicles.
Rumour has it that the company is considering a large site close to J23 of the M5 in Somerset and, were it to make a decision to come to the South West, the move could bring thousands of ‘green’ jobs as well as establish a thriving supply chain.
Charlie Parry, who is head of investor relations at Good Energy and non-executive director at its EV-charging subsidiary Zap-Map, said: “Bristol and the South West is primed to lead the UK way in electric vehicles.
"It’s a leader in tech and startups, with some of the best engineering, research and development talent in the UK.
“It also has a long history of commitment to the environment and protecting our planet. Add to that the obviously advantageous geographical benefits and it’s the perfect place for an EV manufacturing hub.
"As a leader in cleantech Good Energy has been proud to call the South West our home for over 20 years and would welcome Rivian to join us.”
Community interest company Action Net Zero, which has partnered with Good Energy to run a campaign in Bristol around encouraging people to embrace greener transport from walking to cycling to driving electric vehicles, sees Rivian as a fantastic opportunity in moving the city and region towards net zero.
Pam Barbato of Action Net Zero CIC said: “The South West, already a leader in collaborative partnerships, could enable this to happen with the support of the government. The South West is a home for pioneering organisations, public and private working together to support sustainable design, production and supply, enabling the delivery of carbon-neutral products and services.
“This is the perfect region for Rivian to deliver on its commitment of being carbon neutral by 2028.”
Rivian is looking to expand and were it to come to the UK it would create the biggest car manufacturing plant since the 1980s with an investment of around $1bn in the UK economy.
However there are fears the UK could lose out to other possible European sites if the terms are not favourable – and agreed swiftly. One of the perceived weaknesses of the South West is the fact that Bristol is not a ‘free’ port.
A free port means it would be a designated zone where normal tax and tariff rules do not apply. There are currently eight free ports in the UK with only Plymouth in the South West. This has caused consternation for business leaders in the region who feel the move would accelerate growth especially in the green economy.
West of England mayor Dan Norris also sees big benefits to his West of England constituency of Rivian coming to the South West and, like ANZ Bristol, has been calling on the Government to act quickly.
He said: “The Somerset site is a one-off and is ideal for this new plant. If we are serious about net zero, we should be seizing the moment to get these green jobs secured for the West of England and for Britain.
“It's the right location with Bristol port on the doorstep, and rail links ripe for improvement. The sheer size of the plant is something we have not seen before and would bring high skilled jobs directly and in the supply chain.
“But time is of the essence. If Rivian don't choose Somerset they will announce a deal elsewhere in Europe very soon. That's why I am urging the Government to come up with the right package to secure the deal.”
Pictured: The Rivian R1S