New UK truck factories are as rare as hen teeth, but PowerTorque’s European Correspondent, Will Shiers, was pleased to visit one in south east England earlier this year as another new electric truck brand goes into production.
During my lifetime I’ve witnessed countless UK truck factory closures: Bedford, ERF, Foden and Seddon Atkinson to name just a few, but until now, I don’t think I’ve ever written about one that’s opening!
The factory in question is in Tilbury, Essex, about 20 miles to the east of London, and belongs to Tevva.
This may well be the first time you’ve heard of this zero tailpipe emissions truck manufacturer, but the company has been around for almost a decade, and marketing director David Thackray is keen to point out to me that it’s not a start-up.
“Between 2013 and 2020 we were a start-up, but now we’re a scale-up company,” says David Thackray, Tevva Marketing Director, explaining that this phase is capital intensive, so needs to be as short as possible. “It’s ultimately pre profit, and if you don’t punch through this phase in rapid time, you’ll make it more capital intensive than it needs to be. You need to light the rocket and get it into orbit quickly.”
This is exactly what Tevva is doing, with the help of £53m ($95m) of funding it has secured from investors over the last 12 months.
At the heart of its rocket launch plans is the new 11,150 m2 assembly plant, which I visited in February. At the time contractors were busy fitting the 12 assembly stations, readying it for full production in the summer. When it’s up and running, it will be capable of building up to 3,000 trucks per annum.
If Tevva’s ambitious production targets are anything to go by, it will have outgrown the building by the end of next year. With this in mind, the process for sourcing additional facilities is already underway, reflecting Tevva’s ‘build where you sell’ approach, which minimises both cost and carbon footprint.
The first battery-powered 7.5-tonners will stealthily roll off the line in July, and by the middle of 2023 it expects to be producing between 150 and 200 units per month. By then it will be firmly into the transition phase. Of these, an estimated 33 per cent to 50 per cent will go to British customers, with the rest destined for European export markets including Benelux, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. But it is also looking further afield.
This May Tevva will show a battery-powered truck at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, California, and at the same time is expected to announce where in the USA it will be setting up a factory. It is currently working with external partners to evaluate the relative merits of several US states. According to its ambitious plans, it will be building trucks Stateside by the first quarter of 2024, and a year later this is likely to be its biggest single market.