Britishvolt Calls In Administrators, After Months Of Struggle

British electric vehicle battery start-up Britishvolt has gone bust, after it filed for administration on Tuesday.

The collapse of the firm came after talks of a rescue bid failed to materialise, the Guardian newspaper has reported.

The development resulted in the immediate redundancy of most of its 300 staff – a bitter blow after they had taken a pay cut when the firm ran into financial difficulties in late 2022.

close-up shot of wooden blocks with JOBS sign on table

Financial difficulties

In October reports had suggested that Britishvolt was near collapse and was set to enter administration, after the company’s efforts to bring in more funding reached a dead end.

But a few days later in early November, chairman Peter Rolton told the Financial Times that the firm had secured a lifeline deal that would give the battery start-up enough money to last until early December.

Rolton also told the FT that Britishvolt staff had agreed to take a “significant” pay reduction during November in order to make the money last, while company executives are working with no pay for the month, he said.

Rolton said that the new funding came from a backer who demanded anonymity as a condition for providing the money.

That said, it was reported at the time that the funding had come from Anglo-Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company Glencore plc.

Bankruptcy filing

Britishvolt previously said it needed to raise £200 million to keep the business running until summer 2023, but in November it only secured “single-digit millions of pounds.”

But now it seems that lifeline money has run out after the firm filed notice to appoint an administrator in the insolvency courts on Tuesday.

The Guardian reported that the accountancy firm EY taken on the administration of the firm.

Staff were told the “majority” of its 300 employees would be immediately made redundant on Tuesday morning.

EY, according to the Guardian, said the company had entered administration “due to insufficient equity investment for both the ongoing research it was undertaking and the development of its sites in the Midlands and the north-east of England”.

The administrators will now assess the company’s assets, including its intellectual property and research, in an effort to pay creditors and will subsequently wind down its affairs.

Britishvolt had said on Monday that it was in talks over a “majority sale” of the business but those discussions appear to have failed, the Guardian reported.

Other competition

Britishvolt has been developing a £3.8 billion “gigafactory” at Blyth in the north-east of England and has been backed by a number of companies including Glencore.

Artist’s depiction of planned Britishvolt electric vehicle battery plant in Blyth. Image credit: Britishvolt

The Northumberland factory was expected to create 3,000 jobs and was hailed by former prime minister Boris Johnson for potentially bringing “thousands of new highly-skilled jobs to communities in our industrial heartlands”.

There had been several delays in the start of production at the plant, the most recent to the middle of 2025, for which the firm blamed “difficult external economic headwinds including rampant inflation and rising interest rates”.

The war in Ukraine and the UK’s political uncertainty had also not helped matters.

Britishvolt had received a promise of £100 million from the British government, but that funding was only to be provided once the factory’s construction work hit a certain milestone that has not been reached.

There is already European competition.

Sweden’s Northvolt battery project for example, which has been backed by the European Union, began production at the end of 2021.

Northvolt Labs’ planned battery factory in Sweden. Northvolt

And there is another UK EV battery venture looking to compete.

In July 2021 a joint venture between Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd filed a planning application for a battery Gigafactory at Coventry Airport.

Essentially, this West Midlands Gigafactory joint venture will manufacture electric car batteries.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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