Why Wales is set to become the UK centre for Electric Vehicles
Building on its global reputation as an engineering powerhouse, Wales is set to add another jewel to its already-gleaming crown as plans to produce emission-free electric vehicles in a new South Wales factory are put into motion.
Earlier this month, Luxury sports car manufacturer Aston Martin confirmed that its new factory in St Athan would soon be home to the “world’s first zero-emission luxury marque,” an electric version of the Rapide four-door aptly named the Rapide E. Production is set to commence in the Welsh plant from 2019, and while Aston Martin is yet to release final specifications, a prototype unveiled in 2015 was said to have between 800 and 1,000 horsepower, and a range of 200 miles.
Following the production of the electric four-door, Aston Martin intends to roll out the first electric car produced under the Lagonda brand by 2021. Eager auto enthusiasts may recognise the concept from the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, where Aston Martin unveiled the Lagonda Vision concept, a futuristic-looking electric limousine and confirmed plans to revive the Lagonda sub-brand for its new line of electric cars. Sources suggest that we can expect the first Lagonda production model to be a sedan like the Vision concept, followed by an SUV and coupe.
According to Dr Andy Palmer, Aston Martin president and group chief executive officer, the company sees itself as a future leader in the development of zero emission technologies:
"The Rapide E will spearhead development of Aston Martin's low- and zero-emission vehicle strategy. With the reintroduction of the Lagonda brand, this is a demonstration of how electrification features prominently in our business plan moving forward," he said.
What was once a former British Royal Air Force base will soon be home to a new breed of electric vehicle as construction comes to a close. The new factory, near Cardiff, is now said to be in the “third and final stage” of construction: according to Aston Martin, it will become a “state-of-the-art assembly facility” when finished. Already, the factory provided employment to 150 people. Once complete, it’s predicted that Aston Martin’s new project will eventually create up to 750 jobs.
“I’m delighted that Aston Martin has chosen St Athan as its centre for electrification and the home of Lagonda production in a move that will create hundreds of high skilled jobs in the coming years,” said Dr Liam Fox, the current International Trade Secretary.
“The UK has world-leading expertise in manufacturing and developing low carbon vehicles and this investment is yet another vote of confidence in our highly competitive automotive industry.
“My international economic department continues to work with investors to create jobs in all parts of the country, maintaining the UK’s position as Europe’s premier investment destination,” he added.
For the Welsh economy, the arrival of Aston Martin into the St Athan factory calls for celebration. For Aston Martin, the same goes: upon moving into their new facility last year, the automaker hosted an obligatory “donut” session that involved $83.4 million worth of cars. We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate.