Fortescue is significantly expanding its battery and electric powertrain production operations in the UK with the announcement of an additional WAE state-of-the-art facility in Oxfordshire, creating more than 120 jobs.
The expansion is part of Fortescue’s commitment to growing its British presence through the recent integration of iconic British manufacturers WAE (formerly Williams Advanced Engineering), which was the technical offshoot of Formula 1 team Williams.
Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest said: “With Fortescue’s investment, British engineering will be at the cutting edge of the green energy economy with WAE’s battery systems providing world-leading technology to the entire global industrial sector. “It is heartening to have the UK’s Trade Secretary today at our factory in Oxfordshire to support this message of British technology excellence for both its people and its highly attractive working environment.”
Fortescue’s new site will be open in Banbury, Oxfordshire and will operate alongside its other Oxfordshire facilities including the Kidlington factory which will open later this year. The company is aiming to significantly expand its UK manufacturing capability, supplying advanced batteries and electric powertrains globally.
The Banbury site will cover over 13,500m2 in total and employ over 120 highly skilled engineers, technicians, apprentices and graduates, with recruitment for the industrialisation programme starting now. It will be a purpose-built facility focusing primarily on the manufacturing of heavy industry, electric/ zero-emission powertrain systems.
It will also offer automated assembly for battery modules and packs, assembly of power conversion and power systems, as well as truck and train production support.
The site will officially open in 2024 and will create job opportunities across all levels, including apprentices and graduates, acting as showcases for a future rollout by WAE of further global high-tech manufacturing hubs. However, Fortescue is targeting a first prototype build is targeted for July or August this year, with the first mining haul truck module due for completion in August 2023.
The new location will be focused on the production of a wide range of zero-emission products for the off-road sector including trucks and trains. It will form part of a new global business aimed at driving decarbonisation in all fields of economic activity while building sovereign capabilities in emerging technology.
This announcement follows the entry into force of the historic Australia – UK Free Trade Agreement which sees a key focus on next-generation manufacturing and capabilities.
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “Fortescue’s investment in Oxford shows how this government is creating the right conditions to encourage cutting-edge advanced manufacturing companies to invest in the UK. “This new state-of-the-art site will bolster the UK’s electric vehicle supply chain and create over 120 highly skilled jobs, helping to grow our economy.”