Britishvolt goes into administration

1 min read

The news that Britishvolt has filed for administration after talks with possible buyers for the company fell through is a serious – if not exactly terminal – blow to the UK’s plans to develop a domestic electric battery industry.

The company has struggled to raise the necessary funds to support its plans for the £3.8 billion project to build a 38GWh factory that would have created 3,000 jobs.

The battery start-up had been set up to take advantage of the UK’s ban on sales of internal combustion engine cars after 2035, but while the demand for batteries was certainly guaranteed the issue for the company was funding the building of its gigafactory.

Backers of the collapsed company included Glencore and Ashtead and the property investor Tritax, owned by investment group abrdn and yet, with no customers or products, those investors, according to reports, appear sanguine at the demise of the company with some describing their investment as “something of a lottery ticket.”

Described by the UK government at its launch as an ‘EV battery pioneer’ the company’s demise raises some serious questions as to the future of the automotive industry here in the UK, an industry that is still heavily dependent on diesel and petrol.

There is still some hope, though, as the Chinese-owned Envision AESC continues to work on a “gigafactory” in Sunderland, with 38 gigawatt hours (GWh) of annual output to supply the Japanese carmaker Nissan which is located nearby.

According to Envision the UK will need upwards of 100GWh to attract a full supply chain and its well-paid jobs to the UK, so there’s still some way to go.

Could the collapse of Britishvolt see the Tata group locate a battery factory in the UK, perhaps even taking over the site now left vacant in Northumberland?

Another company that’s shown interest is the Slovakia’s InoBat, which is chaired by the ex-Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer.

Both companies will be interested in seeing what government support is on offer, so despite the loss of Britishvolt, there’s still a chance for the UK automotive industry to be part of the electric car revolution.