Britishvolt batteries against Australia flag

Britishvolt acquired by Australian start-up Recharge

Image credit: Britishvolt and Canva

Recharge Industries has completed the acquisition of British electric-vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer Britishvolt, following the firm's collapse.

Australian start-up Recharge Industries has bought the defunct battery maker Britishvolt out of administration for an undisclosed amount. 

The British appointed administrators at EY and made the majority of its 300 staff redundant in late January, after failing to raise enough cash for its research and the development of its manufacturing site. 

The company was founded in 2019 and had ambitions of building a £4bn battery plant in Cambois, outside Blyth in north-east England, where it had hoped to employ up to 3,000 workers.

Britishvolt has now been acquired by Recharge Industries, an Australian start-up with little manufacturing experience founded in 2022. The firm is owned and run by a New York-based investment fund called Scale Facilitation.

"What we are bringing is validated technology," David Collard, the fund's Australian chief executive, told the BBC. "The US defence industry has validated it and it is already supplied to the UK Navy through a subcontractor."

The new owners will keep the Britishvolt brand name but said they wanted to focus the company's resources on research and development of batteries for energy storage and, eventually, high-performance sports cars. 

The agreement did, however, revive the hopes for the construction of the Cambois site. 

“I spent a lot of time with Northumberland County Council," Collard said. "They genuinely want a gigafactory and the best thing for their people."

Recharge also plans to build a battery factory in Geelong, a former car manufacturing hub in Australia, according to reports. 

The downfall of Britishvolt was blamed on a lack of battery experience, proven technology, customers and revenue.

One year ago,  Britishvolt’s future appeared decidedly rosier, with the UK government pledging to provide financial support for the Northumberland gigafactory. However, by October, it was said that Britishvolt had yet to receive any of the government’s promised funding, understood to be worth around £100m.

The company collapsed at the end of last month. 

Part of the interest of Recharge’s pitch was focused on its existing relationship with American lithium-iron battery developer C4V, removing the need to develop new technology. For this reason, it was chosen above offers from existing Britishvolt investors, including private equity firm Greybull Capital and the HSBC-backed Saudi British Bank.

The deal means that the revived Britishvolt could make batteries using Australian minerals, including lithium, US technology and British manufacturing, representing the same three countries in the Aukus trilateral security pact.

Collard told the BBC he would accept government funding, but stressed that he desired broad political support for the project.

 “Anyone will take free money but at the end of the day what we want is bi-partisan support and we have that in Australia and the US,” he said, revealing his hopes for the project to create up to 8,000 jobs on-site and in the supply chain.

The UK currently has only one Chinese-owned battery plant in Sunderland. Meanwhile, there are 35 battery plants planned or already under construction in the European Union.

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