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Recharge Industries makes bid for Britishvolt, reviving hope for UK’s first gigafactory

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Recharge Industries, an Australian start-up that plans to build its own gigafactory in Geelong, Australia, has made a preliminary bid for Britishvolt. 

Britishvolt collapsed into administration last week, with the UK battery producer running into financial difficulties as it failed to meet the milestones set by the UK Government which would have unlocked £100 million of funding. 

While details of the bid have yet to be confirmed, it’s expected that Britishvolt will not enjoy its once lofty valuation – which peaked at around £700 million. Instead, it’s expected that the company will attract bids of less than £10 million. Most of that value comes from the land the company owns in Blyth, Northumberland, where it planned to build the UK’s first gigafactory. 

Speaking to the Financial Times, David Collard, founder of Recharge Industries, noted that a formal bid would not take place until after he had toured the site in Blyth and met with UK Government officials. Collard has already noted that Recharge will want to ensure that the £100 million funding that was on the table for Britishvolt could be revived under its plan for the factory. 

Recharge has yet to build its own factory, however, with the company’s site in Geelong not expected to begin construction until the second half of 2023, with the first batteries coming off the assembly line a year later. That could make things difficult for Recharge, especially when Tata Motors, the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, is also said to be in the running to bid for the site. 

However, Recharge believes it has the expertise and the business model to make both its Geelong factory and one at Blyth a success. In an interview with the Financial Times, Collard noted that Britishvolt had previously approached Recharge for financial assistance, but the firm declined to concentrate on its own Geelong factory. He also noted that Britishvolt’s focus on batteries for electric vehicles and not energy infrastructure was a fundamental weakness of the company’s business model. 

Additionally, in the interview he signalled that Britishvolt risks falling into the hands of Chinese investors, which would strengthen their hold on the battery market, something the UK Government is likely to be looking at with interest. 

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