TVR has outlined a bold 18-month plan to reboot its activities and bring its Griffith sports car to production in 2022 by raising new funds in the bond market and pressing ahead to fit out its assembly facility in Ebbw Vale, Wales.
The revitalised firm, whose principal directors, chairman Les Edgar and operations chief John Chasey, were joined late last year by a new CEO, Jim Berriman, is now in the throes of raising £25 million on the Dublin bond market – Europe’s largest. The bosses calculate that by the time TVR starts building cars, it will have spent around £45m on the project.
TVR already holds orders worth around £40m for the 200mph Griffith, which was revealed at the Goodwood Revival in 2017. The company says it continues to enjoy the support of an “amazingly passionate” body of around 500 potential owners who each contributed holding deposits of between £2500 and £5000 more than two years ago to join the waiting list for the first batch of Launch Edition cars, which are priced at around £90,000.
“It’s no secret that this project has turned out to be tougher than we expected and has taken longer,” Edgar told Autocar. “But we’re all still completely dedicated to building a sustainable sports car business. Many of the delays have been caused by problems beyond our control.”
Edgar cited the example of an unforeseen European Union requirement for the Welsh government to offer the factory-fitting contract to bidders across Europe, which resulted in an 18-month delay.
The contract has now been let to a local company, which has issued a detailed schedule of works and is ready to go. But another delay has been the understandable preoccupation with Covid-19 of the Welsh government – which is a 3% stakeholder in TVR’s project and the provider of a £2m loan.
TVR bosses are necessarily diplomatic about their situation but are clearly hoping that, given the announced departure of Ford from Bridgend and Ineos’s likely decision to cancel building a plant there in favour of buying the Smart factory in France, TVR’s role in sustaining Welsh car making – and helping to support existing component suppliers in a disadvantaged area – will take on new significance.
“We now have much more certainty about this project,” said Berriman, an experienced automotive industry executive engineer who cut his teeth at Land Rover before working on the Goodwood-built Rolls-Royce range. “We have a Griffith prototype that’s in great shape and works well, but now the real work starts.