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Britishvolt, which is backed by commodities giant Glencore, is in advanced talks to secure at least £200million in Government funding. It will go towards its proposed electric car battery facility in Blyth, Northumberland. The company, which is backed by commodities giant Glencore, aims to become a large-scale battery producer with its £2.6billion factory in northeast England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has placed securing car battery investments at the heart of his Ten Point Plan to spur on a “green industrial revolution” after Brexit.
The government’s plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and hybrids by 2035 will require vehicle plants to shift to producing electric models.
Ministers have set aside £850m to attract battery investment in the UK.
Britishvolt is also in advanced talks with several potential customers, including Vauxhall owner Stellantis to provide batteries, according to reports.
A spokesman for the business department declined to comment on the talks but said the Government was “firmly committed to ensuring the UK continues to be one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing, as highlighted by the recent announcement of the new Envision AESC gigafactory in Sunderland”.
Currently, the only other major battery site in the UK is a plant at Sunderland that supplies Nissan, which the Chinese owner Envision wants to expand significantly.
But recent UK electric investments from Nissan and its battery supplier Envision, as well as Stellantis and Ford have all received Government financial support.
Founded in 2019, Britishvolt had no in-house technology, serious financial backing, or agreements with any customers when it began scouting for a site for its first factory.
The company has since secured the Blyth site, reckoned to be the most promising in the UK for a gigafactory, and began construction work over the summer.
In August it raised about $70million (£50.1million) in a series B round, with new investors including Glencore, that valued the company at more than $1bn (£730million).
Stellantis, which plans to build an electric van at its Ellesmere Port site, is said to be keen to source batteries for its project within the UK.
But Britishvolt and Stellantis are also in wider talks on supplying batteries to other electric cars made outside the UK, three people said.
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The move will put Brexit Britain in direct competition with Mr Musk’s Tesla, who recently opened a new gigafactory in Berlin.
It came after he snubbed Brexit Britain.
He told trade magazine Auto Express in 2019 that uncertainty over the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU “made it too risky” to establish its European battery facility in the country.
He added that his decision was influenced by Germany’s strong track record on engineering.
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