EV battery firm Britishvolt has confirmed plans to open the UK’s first gigafactory in 2023, in collaboration with Pininfarina, which will design the plant.
The large-scale battery manufacturing site will be at the former RAF base of Bro Tathan, Wales, making it closely situated to Aston Martin's new St Athan factory, home of the DBX SUV and its future electrified vehicles.
The 2.7-million-square-feet plant will have an annual battery production capacity of up to 35GWh, claims Britishvolt, giving it an output on a par with Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada, US.
The move is intended to make Britishvolt a global leader in producing high-performance lithium ion batteries, with the firm claiming it will “become one of the largest industrial investments in British history”. No details on investment have been announced, but it will include government funding.
The government has previously been vocal in backing a UK gigafactory, no doubt grasping its importance for the future of the UK car industry. Only last year, outgoing Jaguar Land Rover boss Sir Ralf Speth said: “If batteries go out of the UK, then automotive production will go out of the UK.”
News of Britishvolt’s plans to open a gigafactory first broke in May. Earlier this month, it confirmed it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Welsh government for the project, and today it has announced its collaboration with Italian design house Pininfarina.
A UK gigafactory has long been on the cards, with Tesla regularly named as a possible proprietor of such a site. Most recently in June, there were reports suggesting that the American firm is evaluating a potential location in Somerset.
Britishvolt said: “Britishvolt is dedicated to supporting sustainable energy storage by producing high-performance lithium ion batteries. Our aim is to establish the UK as the leading force in battery technology, with a target product launch date of 2023.”
Italian design house Pininfarina, well-known in the car industry but also for projects such as renovation of the Eurostar train fleet, said its “revolutionary designs will ensure that Britishvolt’s gigaplant is both fit for purpose, and an elegant representation of the future of the UK’s automotive industry”.
Britishvolt CEO Orral Nadjari said: “We're honoured to collaborate with world-renowned design powerhouse Pininfarina to create our landmark gigaplant. At Britishvolt, we believe in prioritising an innovative design to match the future quality of our lithium ion cells.
“Britishvolt’s aim to become the world’s first zero-carbon battery manufacturer aligns perfectly with Pininfarina’s expertise in creating green, high-tech and innovative environments. With carefully selected sustainable materials that take into account the entire building’s lifecycle, Pininfarina’s appreciation of social impact is what drew us to this partnership.”
Pininfarina CEO Silvio Pietro Angori added: “We're proud to collaborate with Britishvolt on such an ambitious project, thus contributing towards creating the UK’s largest battery manufacturing facility and advancing the evolution of e-mobility.
"Our focus has always been on combining timeless design with social and environmental sustainability, both in automotive design and architecture. Sustainable design is no longer an option to consider down the line; it’s a necessary commitment to create social and economic value for future generations.”