07/07/2022

British battery company Britishvolt has announced that it will invest more than £200 million in a new facility in the West Midlands to test manufacturing methods used at its proposed Northumberland plant.

The company will lease a site in Hams Hall, Warwickshire from warehouse developer Prologis, with equipment expected to be installed by the end of fall 2023.

The move gives Britishvolt access to a large number of engineers working in the West Midlands, which has long been the heart of the UK automotive industry. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plans to set up a battery assembly center in Hams Hall, while German carmaker BMW is also producing gasoline engines there.

Britishvolt has pursued a number of partnerships and investments to pursue its ambition to build batteries for electric vehicles from scratch. In January, it secured £100m of government funding, along with backing from investment firm Abrdn and fund manager Tritax, which is expected to reach £1.7bn. Britishvolt also recently secured an investment from Monaco-based shipping company Scorpio Group, which indicates the company will look to customers outside the auto industry. However, it has signed letters of intent with British automakers Aston Martin and Lagonda.

Britishvolt decided to build a “Gigafactory” – in technical terms battery plants with an annual capacity of more than 10 gigawatt-hours generally referred to – at Cambois near Blyth in Northumberland. This site was chosen in part due to access to renewable energy from offshore wind farms.

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Paul Franklin, Britishvolt’s director of real estate, said he wanted the company to “lead the UK’s journey to remanufacturing with its first mega battery factory”, adding that the Hams Hall facility would “help Britain build your own, upgrade intellectual property and make the country fit for an energy transition.” “.

The only other planned battery factory of the same size is an investment by China’s Envision at a site in Sunderland previously owned by Nissan to make batteries for its electric models. Another attempt to build a “megafactory” at Coventry Airport has yet to find a major investor.

The project hopes to attract investment from a major auto company, with West Midlands-based JLR seen as the best solution. However, JLR did not deny a Bloomberg report last week that it is considering buying batteries abroad from Sweden’s Northvolt or China’s SVOLT Energy Technology for a range of electric vehicles that it can assemble in Slovakia.