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British Volt Collapses Into Administration

January 17, 2023

By Paul Homewood

 

So much for all those green jobs promised:

 

 image

UK battery start-up Britishvolt has collapsed into administration, with the majority of its 300 staff made redundant with immediate effect.

Employees were told the news at an all-staff meeting on Tuesday morning.

The firm had planned to build a giant factory to make electric car batteries in Northumberland and was part a long-term vision to boost UK manufacturing.

But its board is believed to have decided on Monday that there were no viable bids to keep the company afloat.

Industry experts say the UK will need several battery factories to support the future of UK car making as petrol and diesel engines are phased out over the next decade.

The UK currently only has one Chinese-owned plant next to the Nissan factory in Sunderland, while 35 plants are planned or already under construction in the EU.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-64303149

The root cause of this collapse is that the factory would have run at a loss for several years, until the EV market was mature enough to provide a full order book. Investors simply were not prepared to accept this.

No doubt high energy costs and competition from China for both batteries and cars were also points of concern.

Meanwhile our car manufacturers will soon have to start running down their engine plants, as 2030 approaches, with the inevitable job losses.

This whole saga is a reminder that you don’t create jobs through government diktat. Promises of hundreds of thousands of green jobs are simply a mirage.

64 Comments leave one →
  1. Nordisch geo-climber permalink
    January 17, 2023 2:44 pm

    Lysenko-ism.
    Akin to putting square wheels on cars, or banning horses from towns in 1890.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      January 17, 2023 3:24 pm

      Currently watching Yellowstone 1923. Excellent drama series, depicting life in Bozeman, Montana in 1923. (Although Yellowstone 1883 will take some beating!)

      So motor cars are evident, but many people are still riding horses or driving horse drawn wagons and traps.

      Just waiting for the series to get to where the government of the time announce a ban on the sale of new horses from 1930 to ensure the take up of motor vehicles…

      • Phil O'Sophical permalink
        January 18, 2023 10:03 am

        1883. Is that the one where the lead female looked like a 60’s California hippy? After ‘The English’ it looked back to the Hollywood West; I soon gave up.

  2. January 17, 2023 2:50 pm

    A bit of good news for a change. Let’s hope the government doesn’t decide to pour taxpayers’ money into this doomed project.

  3. sid permalink
    January 17, 2023 2:51 pm

    May it be the first of many

  4. January 17, 2023 2:52 pm

    It would come as no surprise to me if many auto-makes reverted the hoss breeding and candle making. That’s the predictable future

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 17, 2023 2:59 pm

    As the economics bloke on GBNews said, someone might be loitering to pick it up cheap, but it’s hard to see how any manufacturing/ industry will thrive in the UK when trying to compete with other countries with much cheaper energy and low cost (even slave) labour, even when, in this particular case, you factor in the cost of transporting heavy batteries to the UK market, if we even have any car manufacturing left in the future.

    • January 17, 2023 3:08 pm

      “……UK Government ministers had committed £100 million to the battery project, apparently without a sound business plan, because it aligned with official rhetoric on Net Zero. ….. ”

      Does this mean the government have put £100m of our money into Britishvolt or just that we might sometime in the future ?

      • Cheshire Red permalink
        January 17, 2023 3:49 pm

        I believe the £100m was conditional on reaching certain construction targets, which BV missed, so no government (ie taxpayers) money was handed over.

        That financial black hole was never plugged and was the trigger for the events which have led to administration.

      • Alan permalink
        January 17, 2023 4:26 pm

        The Government had a sound business plan, it was that there should be other investment and project advancement before they handed it over. Now, the company have admitted the project is an economic non starter, mostly because the Chinese have sewn up all battery production ane minerals needed for manufacture.

      • teaef permalink
        January 17, 2023 7:15 pm

        They did not

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 17, 2023 5:25 pm

      I struggle to see how making batteries is much of an industry to invest in. They are essentially a commodity and completely dependent on EV sales. Car manufacturers are going to buy from whomever is cheapest. Why would Britvolt be the cheapest?

      • dodgy geezer permalink
        January 17, 2023 10:51 pm

        If the government directs that it will be, and alters taxation accordingly….

  6. Realist permalink
    January 17, 2023 3:08 pm

    European politicians don’t seem to care how much unemployment they cause as direct and indirect results of their “climate”, “green” and “electric cars” obsessions.
    >>inevitable job losses.

  7. Devoncamel permalink
    January 17, 2023 3:11 pm

    The taxes we’re all paying through our energy bills isn’t a mirage. I suspect the government will be so desperate to cling to their northern power house levelling up agenda that some sort of fudge rescue will be sought.

  8. Mikehig permalink
    January 17, 2023 3:15 pm

    Not really a surprise. Aiui they didn’t have a launch customer, nor any material supply agreements, nor any special tech. Imho they were flying a kite, hoping for a wedge of cash and a quick exit….but that’s sceptical old me.

    • Gamecock permalink
      January 17, 2023 3:50 pm

      Had this been in the USofA, I would suspect it was a taxpayer money laundering project to pay Friends of Obama.

  9. January 17, 2023 3:20 pm

    Goverments do create jobs; just worthless, non-productive civil service jobs

    • The Informed Consumer permalink
      January 17, 2023 7:30 pm

      What a bl00dy mess this country gets itself into, time after time.

      When Thatcher turned us into a service country because to continue manufacturing anything we would have to pay Chinese wages, I agreed with her.

      Then Blair pitched up with his “education, education, education chant, turning Polytechnics into Universities, serving up macramé degrees.

      Now we have a country full of lawyers, accountants (present company excepted), business consultants who have never run a business and macramé experts working in McDonalds. None of whom could grow a crop or bash a bit of metal.

      The idea of anyone working with their hands or gaining vocational skills, and recognition for doing so, was “simply too Victorian dhaaling…..”

      Today, if Ukraine can’t kick Russia out the country, the world is about to change in ways few of us can comprehend.

      Entirely unplanned, unanticipated and, much like climate change, entirely unpredictable.

  10. ThinkingScientist permalink
    January 17, 2023 3:20 pm

    Here’s a job creation scheme.

    1. Create jobs for window breakers.
    2. Create jobs for glaziers and sellers of glass

    Clearly that scheme creates lots of jobs but the net value to society is negative.

    Here’s another one:

    3. Government inspectors to check everyone’s home IT installation (or similar)

    Creates lots of jobs. Huge fiscal drag on the economy.

    Only the economically illiterate think that (a) government creates jobs of any value and (b) that it’s a good thing. It’s only a good thing when there is an overall benefit eg productivity gain, desirable product created etc.

    Then there’s deliberate destruction of perfectly good coal plants before they reach the end of their useful life and replacing them at huge expense with wind turbines which are expensive, require ongoing subsidies, require special treatment on the grid with costly connection and finally are intermittent which makes them lower productivity.

    Perhaps I should write to my MP and ask him to scrap (not sell or part exchange) his existing car and buy a new one. See what he thinks.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      January 17, 2023 4:27 pm

      So, if Tories are scum, perhaps we could could call Labour, Bastiats.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 17, 2023 5:27 pm

      Not even that. Doing away with jobs is the good thing, not creating them. Fewer jobs means lower costs and higher productivity of those remaining. So lower prices and higher salaries and a bunch of people who can go and produce something else.

  11. Cheshire Red permalink
    January 17, 2023 3:44 pm

    There’s going to be an almighty fantasy-meets-reality economic crunch in the automotive sector, and it will be entirely our politicians fault.

    Customers aren’t sold on EV’s (for all the reasons we know) so will retain existing ICE cars as long as possible. In the run-up to the 2030 ICE ban buyers will flock to the last new ICE cars.

    That’s when the fun will start, as there simply won’t be sufficient buyers of new EV’s to keep our car manufacturing factories profitable.

    This is entirely predictable. Without government revising their absurd deadlines catastrophe is just around the corner.

    • Dave Andrews permalink
      January 17, 2023 5:16 pm

      “The current business model of the car industry is going to collapse” if the industry shifts to EVs too quickly.

      “Japan (for one) would run out of electricity in the summer if all cars were running on electric power”

      Aiko Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation the major manufacturer of cars in the world.

      https://climatechangedispatch.com/toyota-warns-were-nowhere-near-ready-to-jettison-gas-powered-vehicles/

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 17, 2023 5:30 pm

      They would have to change their minds now, otherwise it will be impossible to keep ICE plants open. There won’t be components for engines for a start – if you were a spark plug manufacturer say, you’d be already finding other things to make and getting your contracts in place.

      • teaef permalink
        January 17, 2023 7:22 pm

        What happens to any new ICE vehicles not sold by the end of 2029 I wonder. When are the car makers going to stop producing in UK?

      • Realist permalink
        January 18, 2023 4:45 am

        Not many, but there are still a few countries that drive on the left where those unsold vehicles could go.
        >>What happens to any new ICE vehicles not sold by the end of 2029?

      • ThinkingScientist permalink
        January 18, 2023 9:00 am

        Er…there’s a lot of countries that drive on the left, including some very populous ones such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and the most of East and all of Southern Africa.

        https://www.aceable.com/blog/countries-that-drive-on-the-left-side-of-the-road/

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        January 18, 2023 3:17 pm

        teaef:

        I imagine there would be good business in snapping up unsold vehicles and registering them. They would soon be in demand at quite fancy prices as notionally second hand. We have after all seen much the same already with increasing values for second hand cars because the supply has been dented by lack of purchase of new vehicles (of whatever type).

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      January 18, 2023 9:06 am

      Yep, that’s my view. The automotive sector is basically going to collapse after a surge in ICE sales running up to 2030.

      And it will be the fault of successive governments and the stupid lemmings and sheeple in the HoC voting en masse for the climate Change Act 2008 and subsequent mad policies. There is no opposition so Labour, Conservative, SNP, Lib Dems and the 1 Green (Dr. Caroline Lucas, the “climate expert”) are to blame.

      I am hoping for torches and pitchforks on the lawns of their houses.

  12. Curious George permalink
    January 17, 2023 3:57 pm

    Governments are good at banning, not at thinking.

  13. Gamecock permalink
    January 17, 2023 3:58 pm

    In a global economy, the jobs won’t be lost. They’ll just go elsewhere, though they will feel lost to you.

    Par exemple, engine plants will be moved to Mexico.

    So destruction of the British economy only accomplishes moving it elsewhere, most assuredly to places with LESS environmental controls.

    UK is demonstrably insane.

  14. Rowland P permalink
    January 17, 2023 4:07 pm

    “Taxing a country into prosperity is like standing in a bucket then trying to lift yourself by the handle”. Winston Churchill

  15. January 17, 2023 4:24 pm

    Wait just a minute; Sandy Cortez, the Bronx Bar-Back has assured us we will boldly go into a green future with thousands of good, well paid, GREEN jobs. Does this mean Sandy has to return to recycling empty beer bottles and washing glasses? I live in NW Indiana where there are new power line –big ones–going up everywhere as they prepare for a new EV battery factory now under construction. A few trillion$ here a few trillion$ there; before you know it you are talking about some serious money. LGB

  16. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 17, 2023 4:31 pm

    And once our key industries have been successfully moved to China (or put under Chinese control here) it will take a generation or two – or a war – before we get them back.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 17, 2023 5:33 pm

      No, we will do something else. If we had kept “key” industries we would now be making video tapes and CDs and print film. What we will be making in the future we can’t know. Anybody predicting that will be wrong.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        January 18, 2023 3:23 pm

        We still use washing machines, TVs, phones, irons, kettles, JCBs, beds, pharmaceuticals, building materials etc. Unless we regress to a stone age economy I think there are plenty of things that we will still be using.

      • Realist permalink
        January 18, 2023 3:48 pm

        But that’s what the imbecile politicians want. Just look at their attacks on transport.
        >>Unless we regress to a stone age economy

  17. thecliffclavenoffinance permalink
    January 17, 2023 4:35 pm

    What is the photograph with the article? It looks like an archictectural rendering of a factory with the roof covered with solar panels. It is real or just a vision of a factory that never got built?

    • GeoffB permalink
      January 17, 2023 4:52 pm

      CGI, its now a muddy field!

  18. GeoffB permalink
    January 17, 2023 4:50 pm

    It was never ever going to be a going concern, employing 3000 direct labour and 5000 in support jobs was never going to be profitable, coupled with the other fact, they had never made a battery cell. Another set of chancers hoping to get funds from from BEIS for net zero. At least this time some civil servant was on the ball.
    Some of the things that are getting tons of cash are just never going to work economically.
    Battery or Hydrogen commercial aeroplanes.
    Green hydrogen from electrolysers
    Carbon Capture
    Energy storage (of electricity) Gravity, flywheels, pressurised air with cryogenics. Batteries
    Solar panels in orbit with microwave transmission back to earth (yesterday in fact)
    Driverless cars.
    I will also add Battery Electric Vehicles,

    We are heading for total destruction of western manufacturing and chemical industry, that is a lot of skilled jobs gone for good.

    • January 18, 2023 11:04 am

      You missed out Blue Hydrogen – another fantasy

      • GeoffB permalink
        January 19, 2023 11:25 am

        It is sort of in carbon capture………My own favourite is the mask for cows, promoted by our King, designed to neutralise the methane belched out. I am sticking to my unicorn farts collecting system, BEIS are just waiting to give me £100 million, if only I can find a unicorn or two.

  19. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 17, 2023 5:21 pm

    “The UK currently only has one Chinese-owned plant next to the Nissan factory in Sunderland, while 35 plants are planned or already under construction in the EU.”

    The detestable BBC pitching its pro-EU propaganda in as well – planned doesn’t mean anything. Britvolt was planned – until it wasn’t’

    • mjr permalink
      January 17, 2023 6:33 pm

      the report on BBC news this morning was like a wake… surprised the bbc people werent wearing black ties…. it was all doom and gloom with some anti brexit comments

  20. mikewaite permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:01 pm

    Ah well , look on the bright side . Less chance of this happening :
    https://thedeepdive.ca/huge-fire-breaks-out-at-a-french-warehouse-holding-thousands-of-lithium-batteries/

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      January 17, 2023 6:32 pm

      “the fire first started in a storage area containing lithium batteries, estimating that around 8,000 batteries have been destroyed. The fire then spread to a nearby storage facility that contains 70,000 rubber tires.
      The prefecture reassured the people that the fumes are not toxic.”

      Of course, ‘these fumes’ are all green, clean & healthy, not like that dreadful CO2 that makes plants grow bigger.

  21. mikewaite permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:31 pm

    Looking at the publicly available company information
    https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/12381543
    There are things that make even me , as a person without any accountancy training , think as rather odd or not quite what one would like to see;
    eg
    one of the (resigned) cofounders , a Swede , Lars Carlstrom has convictions for fraud and connections to a russian businessman arreted here for fraud. Admittedly all that is history and all convictions long spent , but still , not nice to hear as a taxpayer expected to fork out large sums.
    And why is Orral Nadjari, the other cofounder who quit as CEO in Aug 2022, still listed as person of significant control . Because he never gave up the shares he was awarded? And why has main address moved from Blyth to Belgravia Sq .
    And what was that business with Katch Fund Solutions all about ?
    There seems to be a lot that we are not being told and instead it is being played as just a failure of the whitehall to take advantage of a glittering prospect through the usual british failures from incompetence .

  22. teaef permalink
    January 17, 2023 7:20 pm

    They did not

  23. Mark Hodgson permalink
    January 17, 2023 7:45 pm

    “Meanwhile our car manufacturers will soon have to start running down their engine plants, as 2030 approaches, with the inevitable job losses.”

    Indeed. Our diesel is approaching 100,000 miles, and although it should have plenty of life in it yet, we are contemplating purchasing another, while keeping the old one, in anticipation of the day when new diesel purchases will be verboten. Yesterday we started a preliminary bit of homework as to what might be available, and were shocked by the lack of new diesel models. Interestingly, second-hand diesels seem to be holding their price.

    The salesman we spoke to wasn’t happy. He made a desultory effort to suggest we might look at an EV, but wisely backed off when we made it clear in no uncertain terms that we weren’t interested. I mentioned that we might buy a new diesel this year, and keep our current diesel too, with a view to possibly trading in the old diesel and buying another new one shortly before the ban on diesel sales kicks in. He wasn’t at all surprised and said that lots of people seem to be planning to buy a new ICE vehicle shortly before the ban. The simple fact is that while EVs might work – and good luck to them – for people who live in cities and don’t travel far, or who commute by car a relatively modest distance every day, for many people (such as us who mostly use our car for longer journeys) EVs just don’t hack it. Most people still want ICE vehicles, and are likely to continue wanting them. The Government’s net zero drive will destroy the UK car industry, since it will face the same problems (high energy prices etc) as start-ups like British Volt face, and the Chinese will be quids in, again. As the FT says:

    “China’s carmakers outstrip foreign brands in its electric vehicle boom”

    https://www.ft.com/content/dd149923-1c5d-4e5e-8be6-d979aa48aa33

    China’s booming electric vehicle industry is forecast to further cement its global dominance this year, shrugging off US and European efforts to catch up and posing a threat to foreign groups reliant on the world’s biggest car market.

    Chinese consumers will buy about 8mn to 10mn EVs in 2023, up from record sales of 6.5mn vehicles last year and 3.5mn in 2021, according to company and analyst forecasts. This compares with nearly 3mn in Europe and 2mn in the US.

    “China is expected to have the largest overall sales with 35 per cent year-on-year growth in 2023, after two years of extremely rapid growth [ . . . ] To put this in perspective seven out of every 10 electric vehicles are now sold in China,” said Neil Beveridge, an analyst with Bernstein in Hong Kong.

    The biggest winners from what is becoming a new golden age for China’s auto industry, analysts say, are a clutch of fast-growing local companies that are outperforming foreign carmakers….

    • Malcolm Fraser permalink
      January 18, 2023 7:39 am

      ‘China’s booming electric vehicle industry’,
      Of course its booming, their Coal fired power station industry is booming to provide electricity for said cars! How hard can it be for our dimwit politicians to work this out. How can the UK government have allowed the UN, WEF etc to con them into National financial suicide, I really do not understand the naivety, stupidity etc. Now we have all these halfwits striking for more money when its obvious the trough is emptying fast! Kier and his mob are no alternative. When will this madness stop?

  24. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 17, 2023 8:19 pm

    There is some battery gigafactory presence/development in the UK.
    https://www.ses-ltd.co.uk/news-article/envision-aesc-second-uk-gigafactory/
    Envision is a Chinese company.
    They might jump in and snatch the BritishVolt site cheap?

  25. January 17, 2023 8:19 pm

    Paul,
    Inexplicably, you forgot to say who will be held to account for this latest total fiasco.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      January 17, 2023 9:02 pm

      Why? It’s a matter between the investors and the company, if we are to believe that the government never actually sunk any cash in it.

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        January 17, 2023 11:20 pm

        IF no taxpayer’s money lost you may have a point.

        Unfortunately, I think that those using psy-ops agit prop to promote EVs and build the Net Zero project fear narrative, must be held to account even if only trivial amounts have been wasted.

        And if you drill down into the amount that HAS been wasted, even if only by Local Government in processing Planning and Environmental consents, will still run into millions.

  26. BLACK PEARL permalink
    January 17, 2023 8:24 pm

    I cant remember ever voting for nutty totalitarian dictators, telling me how I should live my life can you ?

    • M Fraser permalink
      January 18, 2023 9:32 am

      To quote Oxford Council ‘you’re wrong, we’re right’!
      Absolute loons.

    • January 18, 2023 11:08 am

      The Tory scum will tell you that it was voted for by the electorate at the last election as Nut Zero was in their manifesto – uncosted and without detail of course. Funny how other things in their manifesto are easily dropped…..

      • Realist permalink
        January 18, 2023 11:27 am

        Same problem (for the electorate) for ALL parties. But people who vote for party X don’t necessarily agree with _every_ item in the manifesto of party X.
        Way beyond time that the actual population gets a vote on individual items rather than having to calculate which party does the least damage.
        >>voted for by the electorate because it was in the manifesto

  27. dodgy geezer permalink
    January 17, 2023 10:48 pm

    I’m guessing that entrepreneurs and consultants still made a lot of money out of this somehow…

  28. cookers52 permalink
    January 18, 2023 4:37 am

    The elephant in the room at this emerging debacle is there will not be sufficient electricity capacity and infrastructure to charge those batteries up every night for the foreseeable future.

    • Realist permalink
      January 18, 2023 6:48 am

      The real elephant in the room is trying to force the unnecessary electric cars (additional electricity consumers) in the first place when there are already problems with providing electricity for existing electricity consumers.

  29. lordelate permalink
    January 18, 2023 10:40 am

    Thank goodness the image shown was an artist impression! rather than an expensive factory.

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