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Business & Economy

Jobs lost as Cambois car battery firm Britishvolt falls into administration

Scores of jobs have been lost after an electric vehicle battery firm ran out of cash.

Britishvolt has collapsed into administration.

Bosses say “the majority” of the business’ 300-strong workforce – which previously took a pay cut in a bid to save its future – have been made redundant.

Its failure comes after 11th hour talks to find a buyer for the company – which promised a 3000-job Northumberland battery plant – were unsuccessful.

The firm had planned to build a factory on former Blyth Power Station land, in Cambois village, which it said would make hundreds of thousands of electric vehicle power packs every year, while supporting 5000 supply chain posts.

But its future was thrown into doubt late last year when a request for a £30 million Government advance – as part of a wider £100 million Downing Street-led Automotive Transformation Fund deal – was refused.

The company – which secured agreements with luxury marques Lotus and Aston Martin to develop technology for next generation sports cars – subsequently agreed an investor deal it said would provide “a bridge to a more secure funding position for the future”.

However, administrator EY-Parthenon says it is now “exploring a sale of the business and assets”, owing to Britishvolt having “insufficient equity investment for ongoing research and the development of sites”.

Dan Hurd, joint administrator and EY-Parthenon partner, said: “Britishvolt provided a significant opportunity to create jobs and employment, as well as support for the development of technology and infrastructure needed to help the UK’s energy transition.

“It is disappointing the company has been unable to fulfil its ambitions and secure the equity funding needed to continue.

“Our priorities are to protect the interests of the company’s creditors, explore options for a sale of the business and assets, and support impacted employees.”

The company’s collapse has further ignited a debate around the Government’s support for both it and the UK’s electric vehicle sector.

Steve Bush, automotive sector national officer at the Unite union, accused Westminster of a “dreadful and total abdication of leadership”, which leaves the country’s automotive industry on a knife-edge.

He said: “This is a grim day for the North East and for the transition to the electrification of the nation’s automotive sector.

“The complete lack of a competent industrial strategy by the Government to protect jobs in the UK automotive sector is becoming potentially more catastrophic by the day.”

Michael Naylor, managing director at global battery materials and technology business EVM – which last year bought Johnson Matthey’s battery materials operation – called for greater collaboration between the Government and private sector.

He said: “It is disappointing to see a quality company such as Britishvolt fail.

“It has suffered from the UK electric vehicle supply chain being disconnected and underinvested.

“It shows that Government and private capital need to work together to integrate supply chains if the UK car industry is to be protected and have a key role in the transition to electric vehicles.”