Britishvolt, the company currently building UK’s first large-scale electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility, or gigafactory, is attracting interest from major investors from the automobile industry. A market analyst, who asked to remain anonymous, told Express.co.uk: “They have the best site in the UK and a rapidly developing product, with the first batch of cells recently sent to customers for testing. “It’s no secret that there’s going to be a supply/demand imbalance for cells, especially sustainably produced cells.”
Sources told Express.co.uk that the company may now be a target for mergers and acquisitions by the likes of “Jaguar Land Rover, or even Tesla”.
This would mark a major takeover of the company, which is aiming to build around 300,000 electric battery packs a year through this gigafactory, with a total capacity of over 38 GWh.
The development comes as Britishvolt has been forced to push back production to mid-2025.
Due to soaring energy costs, the startup has been forced to delay production by a total of 18 months
Orral Nadjari, the co-founder and former CEO of Britisholt, noted that a combination of factors resulted in the delays for the gigaplant.
He said: “It does go hand-in-hand with the fact that we have inflation, we have a recession and we have geopolitical uncertainties. The main facility will be delayed slightly into mid-2025.”
The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, had previously been mulling over setting up a gigafactory in the UK, but pulled out over the “uncertainty” of Brexit.
He told trade site Auto Express in 2019: “Brexit uncertainty made it too risky to put a gigafactory in the UK,” opting for Berlin instead.
Ben Kilbey, the Chief Communication Officer for Britishvolt responded to Express.co.uk’s questions by saying: “It is Britishvolt’s policy not to respond to market speculation”
But these rumours come as the UK startup crossed a major milestone as an electric battery developer, announcing that its 21700 cells had successfully passed essential industry standard battery cell safety tests UN38.3.
Soon, the company will be shipping its prototype batteries to seven customers, including UK firm AIS, for further testing.
Dr Allan Paterson, Chief Technical Officer, Britishvolt said: “At Britishvolt, we are incredibly pleased to be working with AIS, to utilise their expertise and to help support validation of our technology in terms of safety performance. Safety is a key metric in battery cell manufacturing.
“This is fantastic news, and highly encouraging that we have worked with AIS to qualify our first product samples for transportation safety testing, putting us on a path for our future development and enabling us to ship test hardware to customers.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Kilbey previously noted that Tesla building an electric vehicle manufacturing facility would provide a major boost for the country.
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Last month, at a shareholder conference, Mr Musk unveiled plans of building a total of 10-12 gigafactories for Tesla, each with an output of one and a half to two million units.
Reacting to those plans, Mr Kilbey said: “Tesla coming to the UK would be a huge boost for the country and its roadmap for electrification.
“If we look at recent intelligence from the Faraday Institution, the UK will need around 100GWh [200GWh by 2040] of battery output in the UK by 2030 to satisfy demand.
“A brand like Tesla coming to the UK would boost employment and show the world that the country is open for business post Brexit. Britishvolt would love to see companies such as Tesla joining the race to build UK Gigaplants.
“At full capacity, Britishvolt will deliver around 40GWh, towards the end of the decade. That means there’s another 60GWh [by 2030] of capacity required.”
It also comes after it was reported that Tata Motors, which owns Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), is in talks with foreign battery makers Northvolt and SVolt Energy Technology, to source key supplies for their vehicles.
This issue is said to have stemmed from a lack of state funding for a gigafactory in the UK, which is key to Jaguar’s plans to go all-electric by 2025.
Previously, the firm announced that it would build new electric vehicles at existing factories in the Midlands, with some reports later adding that a gigafactory may also be built near Bristol or Redcar. JLR will retain its plant and assembly facilities in the UK.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, JLR confirmed they have not changed their car production plans that were announced as part of the Reimagine strategy last year.
A spokesman for JLR previously said: “With our strategy for every single Jaguar Land Rover model available as a full [battery electric vehicle] by the end of the decade, we continue to explore all options around the supply of batteries. No decisions have been made yet.”
Experts have warned that unless battery investment is significantly boosted, carmakers may soon begin a mass exodus from the UK.
While Britain was once the world’s second-biggest auto manufacturing base, it has fallen out of the top 15 over the past few years.
Express.co.uk has contacted both Tesla and JLR for comment.