Britishvolt’s failure is disaster for the UK auto industry

British Bolt had grander plans for a gigantic £3.8 billion factory that it said would create about 3,000 jobs.

Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the government’s £100m pledge a year ago, calling it a symbol of the ‘green industrial revolution’ that would take shape in the former industrial hub that put him in office. raised.

Great news that EV battery pioneer @BritishvoltUK is building a gigafactory in Northumberland, creating thousands of jobs in the industrial heartland and boosting the production of electric vehicles as part of a green industrial revolution.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 21, 2022

In the end, the money never came. After Ian Lavery, a Labor MP who represents the region where British Bolt’s factories are located, criticized the Johnson government last July, he said the company was “not half price.” We have extended the final grant offer.

What British Bolt was unable to give the government was a secure order guarantee from the automaker.

The company reached preliminary agreements to work with Aston Martin and Lotus last year, but the two low-volume automakers merely pledged an R&D partnership.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a weekly parliamentary questions session on Wednesday that the “substantial” support provided by British Vault was conditional on the company receiving private investment.

“Unfortunately it didn’t happen,” he said. “We stand ready to help those affected.”

“never give up”

Within days of Sunak becoming prime minister in October, industry groups in the auto industry called on the government to improve the business climate in the UK and reported a monthly production cut.

The Association of Automobile Manufacturers has specifically called for measures to bring down electricity prices, which the group says are among the highest in Europe.

As of November, about 786,000 cars had been built in the country in the last 12 months, less than half the nearly 1.7 million built in the period before the 2016 referendum.

New car sales have fallen to their lowest level in 30 years, but the UK remains one of Europe’s largest car markets.

EVs are also a bright spot, with a record 17% registered share last year, and momentum will only accelerate as the government seeks to phase out the internal combustion engine.

The challenge for the Sunak government is to attract investment to a country that is increasingly losing the critical mass of car manufacturing needed to carry out battery manufacturing.

Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said last month that the Volkswagen Group-owned company would ship cells to the UK from elsewhere.

Britain’s climate minister Graham Stuart told the House of Commons on Wednesday, “We are not giving up on the car industry.” ”

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