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Automotive industry mourns troubled startup

GB News guests debate using electric cars

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Mr Hawes, elaborating on his comment, added that “the UK’s promise as an EV battery production location remains, with strong demand, a skilled workforce, and attractive manufacturing sites, all providing a compelling investment proposition”.

Britishvolt was one of those manufacturers, but its fall into administration means most of its employees have been made redundant with immediate effect.

The company had been in the early stages of building a battery factory in Northumberland. At the time the factory was announced, ministers had said it was a “levelling up” opportunity for the North.

Despite this, this economics couldn’t stop Britishvolt from running out of money after failing to turn a profit with no viable bids available to keep the company going.

Now plans for the factory have been cancelled, the UK now only has one battery plant, one that is Chinese-owned and sits next to the Nissan factory in Sunderland.

Meanwhile, there are 35 plants already under construction or planned in the European Union leaving the UK far behind.

Experts say the UK will need several factories in order to remain competitive in the years to come.

EY, joint administrators for the company, said Britishvolt had offered “a significant opportunity to create jobs and employment, as well as support the development of technology and infrastructure needed to help with the UK’s energy transition”.

While the news will be a shock to many, the company has had a troubled financial past.

Last year, they narrowly avoided collapse, one only avoided by one investor providing a lifeline to the ailing company.

Furthermore, Britishvolt also asked the government for a third of the promised £100million in support. However, this sum, totalling £30m, was refused as the company had not hit agreed milestones in the construction of the factory.

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industria Strategy (BEIS) said the Government had “remained hopeful” a solution would be found.

Meanwhile, the Labour chairman of the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee Darren Jones said the government should do more to support the electric car side of British manufacturing.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Mr Jones said: “There is a case to be made here in the UK for ministers and the government to be much more closely involved in delivering a successful battery manufacturing factory.

“If we want cars to continue to be made in the UK, we’re going to have to build electric vehicle batteries here as well. So ministers needs to roll up their sleeves, not just write cheques.”

Editor of What Car? Jim Holder added that it was “very bad news for the whole industry. The only positive will come if it spurs government into action to secure a partnership between itself, the industry and battery manufacturers that can succeed into the long-term.”

The blow marks the end of another false start for the British automotive industry, one which used to be the rival of the world.

The industry began in the 19th Century as the petrol engine and electric motor were making their baby steps.

In fact, the electric production car came before the first petrol production car.

Thomas Parker launched his machine in 1884 and Karl Benz wouldn’t follow suit with his petro-powered tricycle until 10 years later.

Meanwhile, another British entrepreneur, Walter Bersley had a series of ‘Hummingbird’ taxis that were used on the streets of London.

Why did the world switch to petrol?

The reasons are multiple. The popularity of these EVs was built on petrol cars being inferior in terms of cost and reliability.

Fast forward to the early 20th century and falling oil prices and new techniques pioneered by Henry Ford launched the petrol car.

Furthermore, petrol cars could go further, fill up faster, and consumers didn’t have to worry about disposing of hazardous lead-acid batteries.

As a result, the UK’s current love for EVs isn’t so much of a revolution, as a renaissance.

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