Britishvolt secures £1.7 billion in funding for UK Gigaplant

Britishvolt secures £1.7 billion in funding for UK Gigaplant

Battery manufacturing start-up Britishvolt has secured funding of £1.7 billion in a huge boost to its plans to manufacture automotive battery cells in North East England, starting in 2024.

The decision from property investor Trixtax and investment company Abrdn to put up the money came after the UK Government gave Britishvolt a smaller sum via its Automotive Transformation Fund, Britishvolt said. The company declined to say how big the government tranche was but Autocar understands it was £100 million.

“This announcement is a major step in putting the UK at the forefront of the global energy transition,” Peter Rolton, Britishvolt chairman, said in a statement.

Britishvolt started constructing the factory in Blyth, Northumberland, in September last year and hopes to build enough cells to supply 300,000 automotive battery packs per year by 2028, equating to 48GWh of power. The first phase, in 2024, is later than the company’s earlier predicted start date of 2023, but will give it the capacity to build cells totalling 11GWh.

So far the company has not said who will buy the cells, but reported in the statement it would make a series of announcements “over the next few weeks” detailing various tie-ups, R&D collaborations and “relationships with blue-chip UK automotive sports car brands”. It declined to name which brands, but Lotus will be one, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

Britishvolt raised its prediction for its total workforce at the plant from 2500 to 3000 and estimates it would also employ another 5000 in associated supply chains.

The site in Northumberland is close to where Envision will build a battery plant next to the Nissan Sunderland factory with a promised output of 11GWh from 2024, and eventually rising to 38GWh. The factory will supply batteries for Nissan’s planned crossover replacement for the Leaf, due in 2024.

Britishvolt has hired a number of high-profile executives in recent months to help it meet its ambitious plans, including the former chairman of Ford of Britain, Graham Hoare, and former Ford of Europe product development head Joe Bakaj.

UK automotive lobby group SMMT has said that the UK needs at least 60GWh of battery cell production capability in the UK by 2030 to supply up to one million electric cars. The UK government has set a date of 2030 by which sales of pure combustion engine cars will be banned, followed by 2035 for hybrids with “significant” range.

A potential third battery plant in Coventry, central England, was last week given early-stage planning permission by the local council. The ambitious proposal for the plant at Coventry airport reckons that it could be producing 60GWh of batteries from the one site alone, creating 6000 jobs in the process.