Australian startup Recharge completes the acquisition of British battery manufacturer Britishvolt | Renewable energy

Australian company Recharge Industries will acquire bankrupt battery maker Britishvolt after finalizing a deal with administrators late Sunday in the UK.

The deal revives hopes of building a £3.8 billion (A$6.7 billion) ‘gigafactory’ in northern England, at the heart of a plan to modernize Britain’s automotive industry and deliver a new generation of UK-made electric vehicles.

The deal closed three weeks after Recharge, an Australian firm operating under New York-based investment firm Scale Facilitation, was nominated as the preferred bidder, representing a huge opportunity and burden for a startup that has yet to build a project.

The Australian-born founder and chief executive of Scale Facilitation, David Collard, told the Guardian that the factory and associated supplier park where components are made continued to be the focus of attention.

“We are working closely with one of the UK’s leading fund managers who is willing to collaborate on development,” said Collard.

Recharge also plans to build a battery factory in Geelong, a former car manufacturing center in Australia, free of Chinese and Russian materials.

Britishvolt planned to build the 30GWh plant in stages to take advantage of the growing demand for electric vehicles ahead of the UK ban on new petrol and diesel cars in 2030. The plant, located near Blyth in Northumberland, was expected to employ around 3,000 people when it is running at full capacity.

It had £100m of conditional funding from the British government but failed to overcome various hurdles.

Britishvolt collapsed last month after running out of cash, and its collapse was partly due to the significant sums spent on battery technology and research. Part of Recharge’s presentation focused on its existing relationship with the US manufacturer of C4V lithium iron batteries, removing the need to develop new technology.

The BBC was the first to inform about the finalization of the agreement with EY administrators. This means a revived Britishvolt could make batteries using Australian minerals including lithium, American technology and British manufacturing, representing the same three countries in the Aukus tripartite safety pact.

Collard said the company would initially focus on “developing a robust business plan for the UK with global alignment”.

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Recharge has expressed an interest in producing batteries for the energy storage and defense industries, which differs from Britishvolt’s original goal of producing power batteries for 300,000 vehicles a year.

Recharge’s offer gained the support of the British government’s trade envoy to Australia, former English cricketer Ian Botham. It beat bids from existing investors Britishvolt, private equity firm Greybull Capital and HSBC-backed Saudi British Bank.

According to the British research body The Faraday Institution, by 2040 the UK will need 10 large battery manufacturing plants or gigafactories. It now has one Chinese battery factory next to Nissan’s Sunderland plant and lags behind many European countries.

The future of car production is closely tied to battery production as automotive brands want to combine production facilities. China is the world’s leading producer of batteries for electric vehicles.

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