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Britishvolt bought out by Aussie battery firm
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
Top stories in today’s edition… a short summary of the company behind the purchase of Britishvolt, Scottish-based Munro faces legal action for patent infringement, and EV sales continue to power new car registrations.
As ever, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do get in touch. My contact details are here or simply reply to this email.
Britishvolt bought out by Aussie firm
What’s happened? Britishvolt, the battery gigafactory that recently went into administration, has been bought by an Australian company named Recharge Industries - which is backed by a New York based fund called Scale Facilitation. As part of the deal, Recharge will acquire the majority of Britishvolt’s business and assets which, according to reports, they paid a premium for compared to other bidders. See Sky News.
Why? Recharge Industries is already planning to build a facility in Australia to produce EV batteries and is undertaking a significant amount of research into developing battery tech, so presumably they know their onions. According to the company, their plan is to fully resurrect building the UK’s first gigafactory rather than to split it up. The Guardian has a good report.
Who? The key figure behind the deal is David Collard. He’s an Australian businessman based in New York. Collard began his career at PwC in Manhattan before he left in 2019 to pursue his own path - he now runs Scale Facilitation which is a fund focussed on scaling technology and other products. During the pandemic, Collard’s outfit was able to catch onto the PPE boom by helping governments in Australia and New York to streamline their procurement. In 2021, Collard’s company SaniteX Global started supplying New York State agencies with PPE, including the NYPD.
How it’s panned out… Before putting in a formal offer, Collard said last week that he would be touring Britishvolt’s Blyth site and meeting government officials. On the news of their winning bid yesterday, Collard told media: “We're thrilled to be progressing with our proposed bid for Britishvolt and can't wait to get started making a reality of our plans to build the UK's first gigafactory. After a competitive and rigorous process, we're confident our proposal will deliver a strong outcome for all involved.”
Will it work… It’s early days but a lot of hopes and dreams for the UK’s battery capacity still rides on this working. In positive news, already this morning Recharge Industries signed a memorandum of understanding with Tees Valley Lithium. Though, in the words of Britishvolt’s former comms director, it would be great to see ‘more walking and less talking’ in the months ahead. This is clearly going not going to be an overnight turnaround. Recharge itself, on LinkedIn at least, only appears to have 8 employees. Fortunately, there are still 26 Britishvolt employees on the payroll that will be kept on by the new owners. I really hope it works.
The latest EV news…
NEW FIGURES: According to recent figures published by the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the sale of EVs continues to underpin a lot of growth in the new car market. Compared to the same time last year, there were about 20% more EVs registered – 17,294 in January versus 14,433 in 2022. According to SMMT, plug-in cars are expected to comprise 1 in 4 new registrations this year and they are concerned infrastructure isn’t keeping pace. Admittedly, this isn’t the first time SMMT has shared a warning about a lack of chargers or regulated service. By my count, this is the fourth time they’ve called for action on infrastructure in as many months. Though this is absolutely the right call, Business Green have this morning shared a counter to this narrative with a round-up of the “flurry” of recent announcements by operators. Read more from SMMT.
DYNAMIC CHARGE: Really interesting feature in the FT this morning about the potential for wireless charging. It’s expected there will be 700,000 wirelessly chargeable EVs by 2032, most likely made-up of premium vehicles and delivery vans. Read more in the FT (free to read atm).
BAD SCOT: In December, Scottish-based Munro Vehicles, launched their electric 4x4. It’s an EV built for the outdoors, with its target customers being the mining, construction, and agriculture sectors. It’s the first car to enter production in Scotland in more than four decades. Alas, a US start-up named Bollinger Motors has filed lawsuits against Munro alleging a breach of contract, patent infringement, and trade dress infringement.
What’s the issue? It seems mostly to relate to Munro’s lead designer, Ross Compton, who previously was contracted by Bollinger, violating a nondisclosure while designing Munro’s products. They are also suggesting that Munro’s design is so similar to their own that people may get confused, damaging Bollinger’s brand. Images above and below. Fingers crossed this does not end Scotland’s auto dream. Read more.
NON-STREET: A local politician in York has said the council is “falling behind” as it is favouring ultra-rapid charging hubs rather than providing for the estimated 15,000 living in terraced housing. Amen. Read more.
SIREN OFF: Rather amusing, it seems while Police Scotland decided to make a great stand buying 75 EVs, it apparently is yet to install chargers at stations. This has meant many of the electric taser mobiles are going unused. According to one comment provided to The National, one station tried the old ‘granny charger out the window’ trick – but it was too much for the three-pin plug. Read more.
IRISH CHARGE: A new report about challenges facing would-be EV drivers in Northern Ireland shows that 70% believe the prices are the biggest turnoff. But, 37% of respondents said they would ‘definitely’ or ‘strongly consider’ getting an EV. About 43% were worried about the availability and location of public chargers. Read more.
BIG UPGRADE: InstaVolt, which operates 937 ultra-rapid charging networks in the UK according to Zap-Map, recently announced it would be upgrading the speeds of more than 200 of its devices. The 200 in question currently have a max speed of 50kW, but by the end of March this year, they will produce 125kW. This is proper GOAT stuff. Read more.
BOUGHT OUT: The Sheffield-based EV tech business, Mina, has been acquired by Fleetcor – who were one of its early investors. Mina, for those who don’t know, allows companies to pay for energy used at employees’ homes for their charging costs. For example, if you run a fleet of vans, and your staff charges them on their drive using their own supply, your company could reimburse them accurately. Read more.
REDUCED PRICE: Onto, the electric car subscription company that only recently received £100m of new credit, announced yesterday it would be offering a ‘no charging’ option. What this means is, Onto won’t cover your public charging costs meaning it will cost £60 less per month. Read more.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Britain’s Motor Ombudsman has revealed today that 41% of complaints about EVs related to the purchase process or the service customers received from a business after buying a car. It seems the supply chain shortages make-up about 10%. Read more.
POLE ADVENTURE: A husband and wife are preparing to drive pole-to-pole in a modified Nissan Ayria. It’s a 17,000-mile journey meaning, if they were able to get 300 miles out of each stint, that would mean having to charge up 57 times (at least!). As there might not be many chargers along their journey, the car is packed with a wind turbine and solar panels to help recharge the battery. Shame BP’s Polar network is no more ha ha ha… What’s most mental, is apparently nobody has ever driven pole-to-pole, so to do it in an electric car will be special. See their website here.
WITS END: Dr Andy Palmer, the Chairman of InoBat and former senior Aston Martin and Nissan executive, complained on Twitter, alongside a picture of a presumably non-working Shell Recharge station, about unreliable chargers at the weekend with a call for an Ombudsman and regulatory body. In response, James McKemey, Head of Policy at Pod Point, suggested the long-expected OZEV regulations are ‘upcoming’. Great, they’ve taken long enough!
BEIS SPLIT: The Prime Minister has split up the Business department, meaning Energy and Net Zero are in its own department (led by Grant Shapps). Meanwhile, there will also be a Science, Innovation and Tech department (led by Michelle Donelan). Plus, a Business and Trade department (led by Kemi Badenoch). Presumably that leaves EV infrastructure policy with Shapps?
By Tom Riley | Check my Linktree for LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter