London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Britain's battery industry doomed by government, Britishvolt co-founder claims

Britain's battery industry doomed by government, Britishvolt co-founder claims

Britishvolt co-founder Orral Nadjari, speaking to Sky News in his first interview since the firm's collapse, claims government bureaucracy and delays were to blame for the company's failure.

Britain has now missed its window of opportunity to build a battery industry, and the government, including Rishi Sunak, is largely to blame, the head of collapsed cell manufacturer Britishvolt has told Sky News.

The company was feted as the jewel in Britain's manufacturing crown - the first home-grown gigafactory, co-financed by the government and turning out electric car batteries from its plant in the North East - but went into administration earlier this year.

Now, in his first interview since its implosion, co-founder Orral Nadjari blamed government bureaucracy for its failure.

"We lost that window of opportunity," said Mr Nadjari. "We already are behind East Asia. We're already behind continental Europe. The UK, unfortunately, has lost out or is losing out on the gigafactory economy, which is massive in terms of job creation.

"Unfortunately we didn't see that same support from the Conservative government in order to level up the North East. Because the North East wasn't as important for them as maybe other places in this country."

It comes as Vauxhall's parent company Stellantis called on the government to renegotiate its Brexit deal with the EU, telling a parliamentary committee's inquiry on electric vehicle production it was no longer able to meet trade rules on where parts are sourced.

Early investors 'to be hit hardest'

Stellantis' warning was echoed by Ford, who said in a statement tariffs will penalise companies that invested early in electric vehicles the hardest.

The industry, Ford said, "does not have sufficient supply of locally-sourced batteries and components to meet demand".

"Tightening the trade rules at this point risks undermining the switch to EVs with tariffs and adding pointless cost to customers wanting to go green.

"Manufacturers who have invested heavily early in the transition will be hardest hit by tariffs because combustion engine vehicles will continue to move tariff-free."

'Fatal delay'

Britishvolt had planned to build a large scale battery factory - a so-called gigafactory - at a site on the North East coast near Blyth.

The plans were hailed by the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson as "part of our Green Industrial Revolution" and the site was visited by then Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

But while the government agreed in principle to provide funds to help the company build the factory, Mr Nadari told Sky News the Treasury repeatedly dragged its heels.

He said even after all the necessary paperwork had been done, the relevant papers sat on the then Chancellor Rishi Sunak's desk for months before being formally approved.

That delay was fatal, Mr Nadjari alleged, because it meant that Britishvolt ended up trying to raise most of its money at a period of war and sky-high inflation, when global investment was cratering.

"Nobody could foresee a two digit inflation, that the country hasn't seen since 1955," he said, adding that Britishvolt was "caught between a rock and a hard place" as Mr Sunak and Boris Johnson battled during the former prime minister's last days in office.

"Nobody could foresee three different prime ministers, four different chancellors… The UK saw a very turbulent time… and for a startup, what is important is that continuous capital injection and that really halted off and unfortunately because of that rivalry, we were hit with a delay."
Orral Nadjari founded the company

Claims 'completely untrue'

The government disputes the timeline provided by Mr Nadjari, arguing that the final decision was awaiting approval for barely more than two months - as opposed to more than four - though it conceded it did insist on extensive due diligence before agreeing to provide public money.

A spokesperson said: "These claims are completely untrue. Taxpayer money must always be used responsibly which is why full due diligence was undertaken before a final grant offer was made.

"The grant offer, which was welcomed and accepted by the company, included an agreement that funds could only be drawn when agreed milestones are met, such as those on securing private investment. Unfortunately, these conditions were not met, and despite significant engagement from government, a solution was not found.

"The government remains committed to Levelling Up across the UK and is actively engaging with companies to secure investments that will ensure the UK remains a world leader in automotive manufacturing".

'No misappropriation of funds'

Following the collapse of Brtishvolt, allegations surfaced about whether its bosses, including Mr Nadjari, had been running the company responsibly.

In particular, there were stories about use of private jets, about a mansion near the company's Blyth site which it rented for the use of executives and about large sums spent on computers and yoga lessons.

Mr Nadjari said: "Having a wellness instructor as a preventative measure for people's health is economical. To be able to do that virtually for 300 people at a low cost of roughly £2,000 to £3,000 a month - that is very economical.

"There was no misappropriation of funds because not a single penny was spent on a private jet. £100,000 went to, as you say, a 'mansion'… but it was a large house. And if you look at the cost of renting a hotel room for that many people during that period of time, it was far more economical to rent a house.

"The fact that it happened to have a pool, that wasn't working for 18 months by the way, has nothing to do with it."


Related Articles

London Daily
Homeless Man Turns in Wallet with 2,000 Euros at Amsterdam Station
Apple Faces EU Charges Over Digital Markets Act Violation
Macron Warns of Civil War Risk as French Elections Approach
Julian Assange Freed After US Plea Deal
Chaotic Portugal Win Over Turkey at Euro 2024
Global Headlines: Hajj Heatwave Tragedy, Flynn's Family Enterprise, and Rising Geopolitical Tensions
Political Shifts in France, Legal Battles in the UK, and Public Protests in Israel
UK's Richest Family Convicted for Exploiting Servants
Hollande Declares End to Macron’s Political Ascendancy
Hindujas Appeal Swiss Court's Human Trafficking Verdict
Prince William Celebrates Birthday at Taylor Swift Concert
Singapore to Implement Screen Time Regulations for Children
Hello and welcome back. Here we are with your latest news update from around the world.
Hello and welcome back. Here are today's top stories from around the world, you don't want to miss:
UK PM Sunak and the Election Betting Scandal
Climate Activists Target Taylor Swift's Private Jet in UK
United States Bans Kaspersky Antivirus
US to Supply Taiwan with Suicide Drones Amid Rising Tensions with China
Bodyguard of UK Prime Minister Arrested for Alleged Election Betting
Global Displacement Crisis: Record Numbers in 2023
Muslim Community Leader Criticizes Nigel Farage for Undermining Muslims
Melinda Gates Discusses 'Horrible' Divorce from Bill Gates
Child Obesity Surge in England: A Deep Concern
U.S. Sues Adobe Over Hard-to-Cancel Subscriptions
Deadly Heat Wave Claims Dozens of Lives During Hajj Pilgrimage in Mecca
Here are today's top worldwide stories you don’t want to miss:.
World’s Largest Pilot Union Calls to Eliminate Terms Like ‘Cockpit’ and ‘Manpower’ for Equity
Woman Suing UK Intel Services Denies China Spy Allegations
Iran Sentences Nobel Laureate Narges Mohammadi to 1-Year Prison Term for Propaganda
News roundup
Good day, everyone! We've got some gripping stories for you today, spanning from the Middle East to Europe, and even a touch of Hollywood.
Britain’s Refugee Visa Rules Stranding Children in War Zones
UK Elections Predict ‘Electoral Extinction’ for PM Sunak’s Conservative Party
Italian Activist Ilaria Salis Returns Home After Election to European Parliament
Good morning!
England Faces Serbia in Euro Opener with Defensive Concerns
Dermatologist Warns Against Sunbed Usage
Fake Pro-Reform UK Social Accounts and Their Influence on Elections
UK Man Jailed for Non-Consensual Condom Removal
Reform UK Surpasses Conservatives in Historic Poll
US, Britain, Canada Accuse Russia of Interference in Moldova’s Election
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza