Recharge Industries saves Britishvolt in new technology deal

Australian company will use technology already supplied to UK navy and validated by US defence

Britishvolt had planned to build a major electric vehicle (EV) battery factory in northern England, but collapsed in January. Reuters
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Australia's Recharge Industries says it will “bring in validated technology” after confirming on Monday that it had acquired UK electric vehicle battery start-up Britishvolt.

The British company had planned to build a major factory in northern England but collapsed in January after struggling to raise sufficient funding.

Recharge CEO David Collard, who confirmed the completion of the deal after his company emerged as the preferred bidder in February, said the new technology has been validated by the US defence department.

The planned factory site in Cambois, Northumberland already has planning permission and has been described as Britain's best location for large-scale EV battery production. It is regarded as key to the UK's ambitions of building a home-grown EV battery industry to support domestic car production.

Recharge is privately owned by New York-based investment fund Scale Facilitation, which is currently building a lithium-ion cell factory in Australia. It plans to grow the Cambois gigafactory into an advanced green energy project.

The company was selected as Britishvolt's buyer following a bidding process that saw multiple offers. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

While Britishvolt's ambitious plans for the nearly £4 billion battery plant in Cambois have fallen through, Recharge plans to retain the brand name and initially focus on batteries for energy storage before producing cells for high-performance sports cars.

It is hoped the acquisition will create up to 8,000 jobs on site and in the supply chain. Bloomberg

“Backed by our global supply chain, strategic delivery partners and a number of significant customer agreements in place, we're confident of making the Cambois gigafactory a success,” Mr Collard said.

He hopes the project will create up to 8,000 jobs on site and in the supply chain, with work on the site estimated to begin in six months to a year.

The British government, under former prime minister Boris Johnson, touted the Britishvolt project as a major milestone towards building an EV industry as the country plans to ban combustion engine cars by 2030.

However, Britishvolt failed to reach a set of targets required to receive £100 million in government funding.

The site in Northumberland where Britishvolt had plans to build a gigafactory to make batteries

Mr Collard said Recharge would accept government funding but emphasised the need for broad political support for the project, as is the case in Australia and the US.

Colleen McHugh, chief investment officer at Wealthify, said the acquisition was “a very positive move for the UK industry as it moves to produce electric vehicles”.

“The most important component of the EV cars are the batteries and to have that plant in the UK is important,” she said.

Updated: February 27, 2023, 10:57 AM