The founder and CEO of Britishvolt is stepping down from the gigafactory project following reports that it is stalling.

The facility planned for Blyth in Northumberland finalised government funding just last month, with lofty aims of producing 300,000 batteries for electric vehicles a year.

It was claimed at the time that the huge site would create 3,000 direct highly-skilled jobs and another 5,000 indirect jobs in the wider supply chain. The government said its final grant offer, delivered through its Automotive Transformation Fund, would help to unlock a significant amount of backing from private investors. 

However leaked internal memos have suggested that the company is prepared to reduce its valuation to attract additional funding, with The Guardian reporting that the project is on “life support” to minimise costs.

Britishvolt admitted a week ago that construction will be limited at the site for the next six months.

Now it has said that founder Orral Nadjari is stepping down as CEO, with the company’s president of global operations Dr Graham Hoare – also chair of the UK Automotive Council – appointed acting CEO.

“Although it was a difficult decision for me to step away from the operational management of the company, now is the right time for me to pass the reins, after laying the foundations, to our hugely talented, world-leading team, who will drive the business forwards as it enters the execution phase,” said Nadjari.

How IP law can protect SMEs against former employees

Hoare, a former chairman at Ford who spent 19 years at the American manufacturer before joining Britishvolt, also has experience at Jaguar Land Rover and BMW.

“Orral provided powerful insights, and a tenacious approach, that ensured the early ideas for the company were brought to fruition. I thank him for his huge commitment, energy and contributions,” he said.

The company has 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.

Meet startup using data to transform ‘possessive’ car industry