Aluminium factory reopened to supply electric cab maker

18 September 2017

An aluminium factory in Wales mothballed in 2014 is to be re-opened to supply the electric vehicle market.

The Bedwas plant, owned and operated by Norwegian firm Sapa, will make advanced aluminium components for a firm that is developing electric taxies to replace the London black cab.

Sapa is investing $9.6m to modernise and bring the plant back online, and says the re-opening will bring back more than 130 jobs to the area over the next five years.

John Thuestad, business area president at Sapa, said: “Sapa had to end extrusion operations in Bedwas in 2014 due to overcapacity in the market, but we are now pleased to be able to return to Wales with our new automotive components business.

“This is a good example of how industrial companies such as Sapa are growing in advanced markets fuelled by demand for lighter vehicles and more sustainable materials.”

The Welsh government encouraged Sapa to reopen the Bedwas plant, instead of exploiting spare capacity at any of its existing plants, by backing the investment with £550,000.

The factory will supply major body components to London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), which is developing a zero-emission black cab that will replace traditional diesel London taxis. The electric taxi, called the TX, will be assembled in LEVC’s Coventry facility.

A form of plug-in hybrid, the TX has a completely electric drivetrain supplemented by a small petrol engine that can recharge the batteries on the move to extend the vehicle’s range from 70 miles, when running on purely electric, to 400 miles between charges.

LEVC is the same company behind the current traditional black cab, formerly the London Taxi Company, a subsidiary of Geely. The firm rebranded itself in 2016 to mark its shift to electric vehicles. 

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