EV battery hopeful Britishvolt holds talks on UK site sale as outlook dims

Image: Britishvolt

The UK’s push to develop a homegrown electric-vehicle battery giant is under threat as three-year-old Britishvolt Ltd. discusses a sale of its main factory site, according to people familiar with the matter.

Britishvolt is in talks to divest its 93-hectare (230-acre) lot in Cambois, northern England, to Slovak startup Inobat, the people said, asking not to be named as the discussions are confidential. Inobat is considering options including a merger with or acquisition of Britishvolt to get the site, the people said.

Britishvolt declined to comment. Inobat said it’s evaluating European locations including northeastern England and Spain’s Castile and Leon region for its next plant and declined to further comment.

Britishvolt, backed by mining giant Glencore Plc, has been planning to build one of the UK’s biggest EV cell factories as it jostles for a slice of the growing sector. While the company has signed outline agreements with carmakers including Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings Plc and Lotus Cars Ltd., it has yet to gain firm commitments. In August, Britishvolt postponed the start of production at Cambois to mid-2025 from an original target of late 2023, citing rising interest rates, inflationary pressures and surging energy costs.

The talks suggest Britishvolt’s high-flying ambitions could be in trouble. The company’s founder Orral Nadjari announced his departure in August, with former Ford Motor Co. executive Graham Hoare stepping in as acting chief executive officer.

While Cambois is among Inobat’s preferred locations for a factory, it’s still considering other locations, one of the people said. In June, the Bratislava-based company agreed to provide batteries for German air-taxi startup Lilium NV’s electric aircraft.

The UK government, which is eager to build up a local cell-making industry as it prepares to ban sales of new gasoline-powered cars by the end of this decade, has pledged funding for the Cambois plant project. Britishvolt started work on the facility last year.

(By Siddharth Philip and Rachel Morison)


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