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investment in battery technology through its industrial strategy, but Tony Burke says this is “peanuts” compared with money being spent in the United States.

Industrial strategy in China means that by 2025, electric vehicle and battery production will be synonymous with Made in China, and in 2016, 600,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold, an increase of 50 per cent over the previous year.

Auto industry expert David Bailey, Professor of Industrial Strategy at Aston Business School, believes the electric vehicle market is finally sparking into life in the UK.

He told uniteWORKS that the country is shifting into an era of electric cars, boosted by falling costs and an increased range of models.

Workers will need different skills in the future, but Professor Bailey fears the UK is ill-prepared for the change, especially compared to countries such as Germany, Singapore and China. “We need to be able to re-equip workers with new skills, but

that is something we have not been very good at.”

Tony Burke wants the government to support phasing in re-training of the existing skilled workforce in car and component companies, including those employed in internal combustion engine technology.

Future jobs, and apprenticeships, will be in mechatronics and cyber security, and Tony believes it is important that no worker is left behind.

New battery technology could create thousands of new jobs, but Unite believes there is an urgent need to step up investment.

The Warwick Manufacturing Group, supported by Professor Bailey, Jaguar Land Rover, local councils and universities, believes 10,000 new jobs can be created in the West Midlands alone on battery research and production.

Cutting the manufacturing or import cost of lithium batteries is vital for future pricing of electric vehicles as they compete

with diesel and petrol models.

A tipping point on car prices is likely in the mid 2020s, Professor Bailey believes, but Unite fears that without proper investment in research and development, infrastructure and procurement, the UK will be overtaken by its competitors.

A friend recently bought a copy of a vintage 1965 Ladybird book from the How It Works series, called simply, The Motor Car.

The opening page reads, “To provide the energy to make it go, it has an engine which in turn needs electric current, petrol and air.”

The book would have to be re-written for any new version – just as the industry is quite literally re-charging itself now.

“ Find out more HERE

Unite is clear. We want investment in new technology. We want to see high-skilled, secure jobs on decent pay. We want to see the UK automotive sector hold its own against Germany, the United States, Southern Asia and China. Len McCluskey

Unite general secretary

” 11 uniteWORKS Autumn 2017

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