Australian company Recharge to buy EV battery start-up

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Recharge Industries has been selected as the preferred bidder for the collapsed business and its assets.

Australian battery start-up Recharge Industries has been selected as the preferred bidder for Britishvolt after it tabled a competitive bid to revive the collapsed manufacturer.

Owned by American investment fund Scale Facilitation, Recharge also has early-stage plans to build a gigafactory near Melbourne in Australia.

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It aims to manufacture lithium-ion batteries without using materials from China or Russia, amid increased global hostility with the two nations.

Recharge’s acquisition of Britishvolt’s assets – including prototype battery technology reported to have attracted a small order from Mercedes-Benz – may help to accelerate its development timeline.

The start-up currently uses technology from American company Charge CCCV (C4V).

Recharge founder David Collard said: “We’re thrilled to be progressing with our proposed bid for Britishvolt and can’t wait to get started making a reality of our plans to build the UK’s first gigafactory.

“After a competitive and rigorous process, we’re confident our proposal will deliver a strong outcome for all involved.”

Britishvolt went into administration on 17 January 2023, ending months of difficulties that often landed in view of the public.

It narrowly avoided collapse in November 2022 after securing several million pounds in funding, said to be from mining firm Glencore. Combined with a voluntary pay cut for its near-300 staff, this gave Britishvolt sufficient funding to survive until early December 2022.

The company was previously prepared to enter administration after the government rejected a request for £30m (AUD$52m) (of the $175m promised) in advance funding to prevent its collapse.

Britishvolt’s failure has prompted parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to launch an inquiry into whether EV battery production is viable in the UK or if the importing of power sources is sufficient.

Committee chair Darren Jones said: “This inquiry will look at what’s holding back the development of electric car batteries in the UK and what needs to be done to protect the thousands of jobs across the country in this important sector.

“The future of car manufacturing in the UK is dependent on our ability to make electric vehicles and to be able to export them into the EU. That means we need local supplies of electric vehicle batteries – something we’re failing significantly behind on compared to other parts of the world.”

According to a report by The Faraday Institution, the UK will need around 100GWh of battery supply – equivalent to five gigafactories – by 2030 to satisfy demand for EV production. This will rise to nearly 200GWh – or 10 factories – by 2040.

At the time of writing, the only UK gigafactory to have secured deals with a global cell supplier and a major manufacturer is Envision AESC’s planned expansion at the Nissan factory in Sunderland. It promises an output of 11GWh from 2024, eventually rising to 38GWh, supplying batteries for the next Nissan Leaf.

Britishvolt’s Blyth factory would have added approximately 30GWh to the nation’s total.

Additional reporting by Will Rimell

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