An Australian firm has bought Northumberland gigafactory project Britishvolt out of administration.

Recharge Industries, owned and run by New York-based investment fund Scale Facilitation, expects to begin building in around a year’s time and to keep the Britishvolt brand name.

However its plans for the project differ from the original vision.

More than 200 jobs were lost when Britishvolt collapsed into administration in January after missing a series of construction milestones.

The £3.8 billion Blyth project, championed by the government as a key pillar in its ‘levelling up’ project in mid-2022, had staved off administration in early November after it secured short-term funding from commodity trading giant Glencore – one of its existing investors – and its staff agreed to take a big cut in pay.

Under Recharge’s plans, rather than seeking to serve batteries for 300,000 electric vehicles a year, it will begin with a focus on batteries for energy storage. It then intends to produce batteries for high-performance sports cars.

Recharge also plans to build a battery factory in Geelong, a former car manufacturing hub in Australia, which does not use Chinese or Russian materials.

It was named as the preferred bidder for Britishvolt due to its relationship with American lithium-iron battery developer C4V, which removes the need to develop new technology.

“What we are bringing is validated technology,” Recharge founder David Collard, a founding partner of the Scale Foundation, told the BBC.

“The US defence industry has validated it and it is already supplied to the UK Navy through a subcontractor.”

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He added in a statement: “Backed by our global supply chain, strategic delivery partners and a number of significant customer agreements in place, we’re confident of making the Cambois Gigafactory a success and growing it into an advanced green energy project. We can’t wait to get started and want to start as soon as possible. 

“The North East of England has a real depth of history and talent in manufacturing and engineering. I recently spent time in the area to get to know the people and the site, and I was struck by the similarities to our Recharge Industries site in Geelong, Australia.”

Britishvolt had previously struck deals with several companies to supply components for batteries, as well as battery design contracts with Aston Martin and Lotus.

The government originally announced backing for the project in January 2022. After providing Britishvolt with a final grant offer through its Automotive Transformation Fund in July 2022, it said the support would help to unlock a significant amount of backing from private investors. 

The government had committed a total of £100m for the project. However when the private funding did not materialise, Britishvolt asked for an advance of a third of the total earlier than planned, which was refused by the government.

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