British battery start-up Britishvolt collapses into administration., Electric Vehicle News Bitesize
British battery start-up Britishvolt collapses into administration., Electric Vehicle News Bitesize

British battery start-up Britishvolt collapses into administration. Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!

British battery start-up Britishvolt has been put into administration, with most of its 232 employees immediately redundant.

The news was shared with staff at a staff meeting Tuesday morning.

The company had planned to build a massive factory in Blyth, Northumberland, to make batteries for electric vehicles.

Ministers hailed it as an opportunity to “level up” to boost the region’s economy and support the future of UK car manufacturing.

But Britishvolt was struggling to turn a profit and ran out of money. The board is believed to have ruled on Monday that there was no viable offer to keep the company afloat.

The £3.8bn plan to build the Blyth factory is part of a long-term vision to boost the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries in the UK and create around 3,000 skilled jobs.

The project has the backing of government ministers as the area is one of the key seats in the so-called “red wall”, which changed hands from Labour to the Conservatives in the 2019 general election.

The UK currently has just one Chinese-owned battery factory alongside Nissan’s in Sunderland, while 35 are planned or under construction in the EU.

Multiple battery factories will be needed to support the future of UK car manufacturing as pure petrol and diesel engines are phased out over the next decade, industry experts say.

EY, which has been appointed as joint administrator, called the move “disappointing” and said it would provide support to all affected staff.

Dan Hurd, joint administrator and partner at EY, said the firm had offered “a significant opportunity to create jobs and employment, as well as support the development of technology and infrastructure needed to help with the UK’s energy transition”.

Mr Hurd said managers were now reviewing options for a sale of the business and assets.

An existing shareholder added: “It’s madness, I have been offering a variety of possible solutions. Falls on deaf ears. It appears, to me, that management wants the company to go into administration. A real shame.”

Britishvolt also planned to open a new battery development centre.

The ambitious but financially troubled start-up nearly collapsed late last year after one of its investors, commodities trading giant Glencore, extended its lifeline.

Last year, Britishvolt asked the government to advance £30m of the £100m promised support, but was turned down after the company failed to meet agreed construction milestones to secure funding.

But industry and government sources remain hopeful that whoever owns the facility will eventually build it.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the government had “remained hopeful” that Britishvolt would find a suitable investor and was disappointed to hear it had not been possible”.

It said it would work with the local authority in the area and potential investors to “ensure the best outcome for the site”.

But the Labour leader of the House of Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee said the government must do more to support the UK electric car industry.

Darren Jones told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “There is a case to be made here in the UK for ministers and the government to be much more closely involved in delivering a successful battery manufacturing factory.

“If we want cars to continue to be made in the UK, we’re going to have to build electric vehicle batteries here as well. So ministers needs to roll up their sleeves, not just write cheques.”

Britishvolt’s founders attempted to build a £4bn facility from scratch without the support of a major manufacturer.

What they had was a vision they hoped will ride the wave of political support and attract the necessary funding.

They first sought a location in Wales before settling in Cambois in the Blyth Valley.

Great location, former power plant. It has a deep-water port with convenient transportation and sufficient electricity. It also happens to be in the “red wall” constituency that was conquered by the Conservatives in 2019.

But political support is not enough. Construction delays meant £100m of public funding never materialised. Money ran out due to rising costs and no firm orders.

The question is what happens next? Talk to just about anyone in the car industry and they will tell you that without gigafactories, the long-term prospects for UK manufacturing are bleak.

So the plant itself can still be a reality. However, this requires substantial investment.

Any potential buyer knows that if they can find an established manufacturer, their chances of success are much better.

Britishvolt’s factory would have taken years to build, “yet the truth is we need at least five such facilities by the turn of the decade to remain a competitive country to build electric cars in”.

He warned it was “very bad news for the whole industry”, adding: “The only positive will come if it spurs government into action to secure a partnership between itself, the industry and battery manufacturers that can succeed into the long-term.”

Friends of the Earth described the collapse as “yet another blow to building the clean, modern future we urgently need”.

People who live and work on the site where the Britishvolt power plant will be built are also disappointed.

Michelle Charlton, who runs Cafe One in the village of Cambois, said the news was “really disappointing”.

“There isn’t any real industry for the young ones coming through, so they could’ve done with it yes. It would’ve been a real benefit to the area,” she told the BBC.

Please give Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast a 5 Star Review to help us grow our audience.

Subscribe to the Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsOvercastDeezer, Breaker, CastboxPocket CastsRadioPublicStitcherAmazon Music, AudibleGaana, Samsung Podcasts, Google News and the Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Alexa Skill.

For more Articles and Episodes search Electric vehicles account for 10% of global car sales.

British battery start-up Britishvolt collapses into administration., Electric Vehicle News Bitesize
Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!