Are you watching, Elon? UK to build its OWN £2.5bn gigafactory after Tesla Brexit snub

Construction of a Tesla Megapack in West Sussex

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Britishvolt, a promising new startup, has received £2.5billion in investment to produce its electric vehicle batteries in Northumberland. Electric battery start-up secured £1.7bn from Tritax Group, a real estate investor, alongside the fund manager abrdn. It also received hundreds of millions from the Government, in a major boost to the UK’s bid to develop a domestic supply chain.

Britishvolt expects to be able to start construction in April, on the site of a former power plant’s coal store.

Speaking to Sky News, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This is something that is happening all over the world.

“Manufacturing countries like ourselves, France and Germany want to be able to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles.

“The announcement is hugely significant – it creates 3,000 immediate jobs and an extra 5,000 jobs in supply chains.

“We put in tens of millions of Government funding. The actual amount invested is £2.5billion.”

Mr Kwarteng said it will provide “huge leverage” for the UK.

He added: “For every pound we put in, we get £25 of private investment.

“The reason why put a little bit in is because it’s a global competition.

“Every other country is doing the same. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

Experts have previously stressed the importance of developing electric battery production capabilities in the UK.

They warned that Britain will need to develop its battery manufacturing capabilities to prevent car manufacturers from leaving the UK as diesel and petrol cars are phased out.

However, the UK has so far lagged behind the rest of the world, with Germany beating Britain to a strike a deal with the Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and build Europe’s first Tesla gigafactory.

Mr Musk blamed uncertainties over Brexit as the reason for picking Berlin over Britain, saying that Brexit made it “too risky” to set up its European Gigafactory in the UK.

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Britishvolt aims to begin production in the next few years, predicts that it will then ramp up production to manufacture cells for about 300,000 vehicles per year by 2030, creating about 3,000 direct jobs.

While the company has not yet announced any deals with carmakers, they are expected to make a series of announcements over the coming weeks about new research deals and partnerships with blue chip sports car makers.

Boris Johnson said Britishvolt’s plan is “a strong testament to the skilled workers of the North East and the UK’s place at the helm of the global green industrial revolution.”

He added: “Backed by government and private sector investment, this new battery factory will boost the production of electric vehicles in the UK, whilst levelling up opportunity and bringing thousands of new highly-skilled jobs to communities in our industrial heartlands.”

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