Britishvolt today filed to appoint administrators and made the majority of its circa-300 staff redundant with immediate effect, in a major blow to the future of UK manufacturing.
The company’s administration and insolvency will be handled by EY, a spokesperson confirmed.
The news was broken to staff in a company-wide meeting at 12:00pm today, following failed efforts to sell a majority stake and secure the firm’s long-term sustainability.
The sale talks, which began last week, failed after the board decided there were no viable bids to keep the company afloat, reported the BBC. They were reported to have been held with three investment groups: one from Indonesia-linked fund DeaLab, with no history in manufacturing; one comprising existing investors; and one last-minute bid from a British consortium.
The Financial Times reported that Britishvolt chairman Peter Rolton told staff a late offer from shareholders had received investor support, but that the company’s main creditors refused to back the deal, leaving no alternative to administration. The offer included a £30 million initial investment for near-total control of Britishvolt, followed by a further £128 million injection, the FT added.
Britishvolt could yet be bought out of administration by a third party, although no potential buyer has come forward with an expression of interest.
Britishvolt’s collapse is a major blow for the future of the UK’s automotive industry: according to a report by the Faraday Institution, the UK will need around 100GWh of battery supply (equivalent to five gigafactories) by 2030, to satisfy demand for electric vehicles. This will rise to nearly 200GWh (10 factories) by 2040.
At the time of writing, the only UK gigafactory to have secured deals with a global cell supplier and a major manufacturer is Envision AESC’s planned expansion at Nissan’s Sunderland factory. It promises an output of 11GWh from 2024, eventually rising to 38GWh, supplying batteries for the replacement for the Nissan Leaf.
Britishvolt’s gigafactory in Blyth, Northumberland, would have added an extra 38GWh to the nation’s total – bringing it significantly closer to the 100GWh output demanded by 2030.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents the UK’s automotive industry, warned in November 2022 that the lack of domestic battery production threatens its future prosperity. The window for safeguarding the industry could close as early as 2024, said the SMMT, as EU rules of origin for battery packs and electric vehicles become significantly stricter.
Britishvolt had experienced a months-long run of problems, including narrowly avoiding collapse in November after securing several million pounds in funding from mining firm Glencore. Combined with a voluntary pay cut for its near-300 staff, this gave Britishvolt sufficient funding to survive until early December.