REE, an Israeli EV startup will construct a facility in the United Kingdom and expects to increase its employees there, making it among the first manufacturing investments by the new generation of makers. The company’s $15 million manufacturing facility in Coventry is going to be mainly automated, with few direct employees, but the company expects its overall UK workforce to grow from 150 to around 300.
Daniel Barel created the company in 2013, and it specializes in incorporating electric motors and technologies into bespoke “corners” that may be combined to form a vehicle’s basis or platform. It has collaborations with vehicle makers such as Toyota’s truck division Hino, Magna Steyr in Austria, and JB Poindexter in the United States, who will take the finished platforms and add vehicle bodywork before shipping to customers like delivery organizations.
As the industry switches to battery-driven cars, the investment is a boost for the UK’s prospects of luring a new crop of electric vehicle specialists. Although Stellantis, Nissan, and Ford have made an investment in electric vehicle models or components in the UK, few electric vehicle (EV) start-ups have established manufacturing facilities there. Both Rimac, which is a Croatian start-up, as well as Polestar, have opened research or engineering centers in the United Kingdom.
REE believes that by taking this method, it would be able to accommodate electric vehicles of various sizes without having to invest in the expensive production machinery used by traditional carmakers. “We’re not fabricating anything,” Barel informed the Financial Times, adding that the company orders batteries, brakes, and other parts from current suppliers.
REE’s Coventry factory will cost $15 million to build and employ nearly no people, depending on robotics to construct up to 40,000 “corners” every year, enough for 10,000 vehicles. The plant will be the company’s first worldwide, with a larger US location set to open next year. “The beauty is that it’s built like a Lego factory,” Barel added, “so you can expand capacity as needed instead of shipping internationally from one gigaplant.”
In Nuneaton, near Coventry, the firm has an engineering base. He also mentioned that other carmakers, such as Ford and Honda, shut down plants after the Brexit decision in 2016, making it easier for the company to attract experts. “People have worked for Aston Martin, Honda, JLR, Lotus, and others,” Barel remarked. “I’m not saying we couldn’t have done it without Brexit; but, fighting for assets [would have been far more difficult].”
While the company plans to export to Europe, it also plans to construct a mainland facility if there is enough demand. “I don’t see any obstacles to exporting to Europe,” Barel said. Last June, the UK government-financed Advanced Propulsion Centre awarded REE £41.2 million to help engineer their specialized corner technology. While the technology was created in Israel, Barel stated that the engineering was focused on the United Kingdom, which is currently the company’s largest global site. Last year, the company went public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), becoming one of almost two dozen electric vehicle companies to do so in the last two years. It has yet to generate any income and reported a net loss of about $505 million last year.