What EV is built in UK?
British icon Jaguar is gearing up to be fully electric by 2025. What about other British electric cars or EVs built in the UK? We uncover the EVs ‘Made in Britain’ and celebrate distinctly British icons entering the electric age.
She’s electric: Mini still at home in the UK
The iconic Mini was a fuel-efficient response to the oil price hikes of the Suez Crisis. The Mini became a symbol of the swinging sixties. Mini remains timeless and classless – equally at home outside a suburban family house as the London pads of pop stars ever since.
The Mini Electric is built at the same Oxford factory as the original. Mini’s Cowley plant employs 4,500 people, building 223,000 new cars a year, of which 80% are exported. As soon as the Mini Electric leaves these shores it goes by the rather inconspicuous name ‘Mini Cooper SE’.
The electric Mini makes various references to its UK roots – from the tail-light union jack to the, slightly more subtle, UK three-pin plug design on its hubcaps. Could that be enough to make it the most British electric car?
As an EV, the Mini Electric is unusual too. Firstly, it weighs only slightly more than a petrol version. Secondly, in fitting with its thrifty roots, the Mini Electric came out £600 cheaper than the equivalent Mini Cooper S with an automatic gearbox.
Mini has bold plans to revolutionise production at its Oxford factory with the arrival of two new radical family SUVs and the next-generation Mini hatchback that will see Britain continue to be ‘the home of the Mini brand’.
A new large zero-emissions Mini SUV will go into production in Oxford based on the roomy Urbanaut prototype first revealed in 2020. It may be badged as a ‘Clubman’, a name traditionally reserved for estate versions.
Turn over a (British) Nissan Leaf
It may not be top of a list of British electric car brands, but the Nissan Leaf is British built. It is also a well-loved EV institution – until the Tesla Model 3 hit our roads, it had been the best-selling electric car in Europe for years. LEAF stands for Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car.
Nissan’s Sunderland plant directly employs over 6,000 people, with a further 46,000 jobs supported through its extensive nationwide supply chain. Since production began at Nissan Sunderland in 1986, 10 million vehicles have rolled off the line – including over 175,000 Electric Leafs.
EV advocate and founding member of the EV association in England is one of many EV drivers who got behind the wheel of a Leaf when she started driving electric.
Batteries for the smaller 40kWh Leaf are produced round the corner by Chinese firm Envision. The batteries of the largest 62kWh version are currently produced in the US, but Nissan plans to bring these onshore too.
Nissan announced late in 2021 plans for a world-first flagship hup for EV manufacturing in Sunderland. Alongside a 9GW battery gigafactory, to be built by partner Envision AESC. The product? An all-new, all-electric family crossover.
Could this be the new Nissan Arirya electric SUV? The Ariya, which will start deliveries in summer 2022, is currently being built for the UK market at Nissan’s Tochigi plant in Japan.
Will Vauxhall’s electric Astra be British?
The Astra has long been an affordable British hero. This popular family car has been around for over 40 years, and has seen the arrival and departure of the equally iconic Ford Escort. Will an electric Astra last longer than production of the electric VW eGolf?
The full electric won’t be coming off the production line in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. The plant was announced as the centre of Vauxhall’s electric van plans, with full-electric versions of Stellantis’ Opel/Vauxhall Combo, Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo small vans built at Ellesmere Port. The Astra is set to move production to near Frankfurt in Germany.
Electric Roller to start EV era
What car could be more British than a Rolls Royce? A series-production electric car via launch in late 2023, followed swiftly by an entirely electric line-up by 2030. Earlier nicknamed the ‘Silent Shadow’, it is actually to be called ‘Spectre’. Very 007.
Rolls-Royce dabbled in all-electric models back in 2011, with a Phantom-type EV that could glide to 62 mph in 8 seconds. It had the largest battery pack ever fitted into a passenger car – 71 kWh (ten years on, 64kWh is pretty common). It had relatively fast charging too, and could replenish its battery in a speedy 8 hours.
Jaguar speeds to luxury electric car status
Luxury brand Jaguar has set its sights on becoming electric-only from 2025. Jaguar will continue its push upmarket, heading towards Bentley’s territory, and staying clear of the SUV segment. Expect some sporty cars. Meanwhile, its current electric SUV bestseller the I-Pace continues to be built on its unique platform in Austria and will have a “normal lifespan”.
Land Rover, not off the road yet
Icon of the British countryside, Land Rover will launch six EV variants within the next five years. These variants retain Land Rover’s off-road ethos, although a full electric Range Rover being nicknamed the ‘Road Rover’ is due in 2024. By the end of 2029, every Land Rover model will have an electric-only version.
Bentley has ground to cover to go all-electric
Crewe-based Bentley will please its clientele “desperate for a luxury electric product”, confirming that by 2030 it will be ready for its entire lineup to be electric. It’ll have to be a quick turnaround though, with the car maker not even expecting its first electric effort before 2025. Bentley can look to sister-brands Audi and VW for electric drivetrain tech – but when it arrives expect an electric Bentley with a distinct British character.
Lotus goes hyper-electric
Lotus’s extraordinary Evija (pronounced “eh-vai-ya”) means “the first in existence”. It’s the firm’s first pure-electric production car. An eye-watering £1.7 million will you get a car built by hand and tested around the famous test track at the factory in Hethel, Norfolk.
Lotus says its 1,973bhp and 1,254 lb ft of torque are good for a 0-62mph time of under three seconds and a top speed of 200mph. A mid-mounted battery pack, developed by the Williams Formula 1 team, officially does 250 miles on a full charge.
Evija owners will be quick at the pump too – charging at a future-proofed 800kW. That’s double the speed of ultra-fast public chargers currently being rolled out in the UK. In theory, the Evija could recharge from flat in under ten minutes. Lotus plans to unveil an electric sports car with more attainable price tag towards the end of this year.
Lotus Cars was founded and owned for many years by chapman but is now owned by Chinese multinational Geely.