Britishvolt has secured a £100 million grant from the UK government’s Automotive Transformation Fund for its planned battery cell factory in Blyth, Northumberland. In addition, there is probably a first potential customer.
The government funding of the equivalent of 120 million euros clears the way for private financing of 1.7 billion pounds (about two billion euros), which will be provided by the investors Tritax and Abrdn. Tritax is an investor specialised in logistics real estate, Abrdn is an investment firm.
The amount of the funding has not been confirmed by Britishvolt or the government, but it has been mentioned in various media, including Reuters and Autocar, citing a source familiar with the matter. If true, the funding would be less than initially thought: in November, the Financial Times reported that Britishvolt could expect funding of 200 to 250 million pounds.
“This new battery factory will boost the production of electric vehicles in the UK,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. He added that it would bring highly skilled jobs to the industrial north. Johnson’s government has decided on a 2030 phase-out of internal combustion vehicles in new car sales. Peter Rolton, chairman of Britishvolt, described the funding and investment commitment as “a major step in putting the UK at the forefront of the global energy transition”
Preparatory work for the construction of the cell factory on the British coast has been underway since September. Shortly before Christmas, it was announced that Britishvolt had ordered production machinery from the German medium-sized company Manz. Delivery of the equipment is scheduled for 2023, with production starting towards the end of the same year. The special feature: the systems are to be able to flexibly produce different cell formats and geometries – i.e. cylindrical and prismatic cells of different sizes.
Production will initially start at four GWh, but will be scaled up later. Previously there was talk of around 30 GWh, Autocar now reports 48 GWh from 2028. However, Autocar also assumes 11 GWh in 2023 – although Manz has clearly confirmed that the equipment ordered so far is only sufficient for four GWh.
So far, the company has not indicated who will take delivery of the UK-produced cells. “In the coming weeks” it said it would make a series of announcements, ranging from research and development collaborations to “relationships with blue-chip UK car brands”.
According to insiders quoted by Bloomberg and Automotive News, these will include Lotus. The Geely subsidiary has big plans to launch a range of electric cars – not just sports cars. However, both Lotus and Britishvolt representatives declined to comment.
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