Geelong battery-making start-up Recharge Industries has closed the deal to buy Britishvolt, the struggling owner of a massive £3.8 billion ($6.7 billion) gigafactory scheme in northern England.
Britishvolt’s administrator EY is expected to confirm late on Monday (AEDT) that Recharge and its owner Scale Facilitation are buying the collapsed company’s assets and business, which includes 27 battery experts still on the payroll.
Recharge Industries, the Australian company that has bought the assets of collapsed Britishvolt, will also make batteries for the defence industry and sports cars, but is shifting away from a focus on fuel cells for mass market vehicles.
The news is a blow for Britain’s automotive industry, which has been warning that manufacturers face an uncertain future without a steady supply of locally made batteries.
Batteries are the single costliest component of an electric family car and industry executives are concerned about the long-term viability of car making in Britain if these crucial components are not made near manufacturing sites.
The government had offered £100m to the former Britishvolt owners if they hit certain construction milestones.
Mr Collard said he would happily accept government funding but wanted broad political support.
"Anyone will take free money but at the end of the day what we want is bi-partisan support and we have that in Australia and the US."
He described the site as "shovel ready" but said it would be six to 12 months before the first shovel would be used on site.
Ultimately, he hopes the site will create up to 8,000 jobs on site and in the supply chain.
That would be a great outcome for the region and the UK economy but this project does not seem to be the answer yet to the UK's pressing car battery needs.
The UK currently has only one Chinese-owned battery plant, which is next to the Nissan factory in Sunderland.
There are 35 plants planned or already under construction in the European Union.