Is British Volt about to fail?

BritishVolt a UK company attempting to build Britain’s first large-scale battery plant for electric cars is on the brink of administration according to the FT and other sources. – The Telegraph reports.

The company has been in emergency talks to raise £200m or to sell the company outright. The plan was for a factor to build batteries at a plant near Blyth and had promised to create as many as 8,000 jobs. It currently employs around 300 people.

The Financial Times reported the company could enter administration as soon as Monday after talks with investors, including Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata Motors, fell through. The Guardian reported that EY was being lined up to advise.

british Volt Brochure

A Britishvolt spokesman said: “We are aware of market speculation. We are actively working on several scenarios that offer the required stability. We have no further comment at this time.”

Britishvolt had secured a £100m grant from the Government for its Blyth plant, but this was only to be drawn down once construction had started. The battery business became a flagship project for the Government’s electric vehicle plans.

In January, Mr Johnson heralded the Government’s funding for Britishvolt as a testament to the “UK’s place at the helm of the global green industrial revolution”.

The company had received pledges for up to £2bn of financing, but most of that cash has yet to be released by investors. It was forced to slash its valuation by £400m earlier this year, blaming market conditions and inflation.

We were always a little uncertain of the plan. In the EV industry the battery pack in the most critical component on the car and as such is has to be designed in from day one. It is not something that you spec out to sunny suppliers. The design, size and specs of the packs are determined by the car company and not the battery company. This leaves BritishVolt reliant on the small number of OEM’s who don’t have enough clout to design a pack themselves. – This is a small market. The large players have their own supply chains in place.

Not good news for the UK economy, but not a great surprise. Especially as these types of factories are very energy intensive and given that the UK energy costs are huge compared to most others it makes the break even point harder to meet. We saw the company at the Cenex show in September at Millbrook where they were showing a small sample or batteries at different sizes.