Britishvolt in Quebec | A project that is always accompanied by questions

Britishvolt is still dreaming of a complex in Bécancour to deliver electric vehicles, but after a year and a half of acquisition, it still hasn’t convinced Quebec to participate in the project. It would be a “mistake” to exclude the UK company from the battery industry, says founder and CEO Orral Nadjari.

Posted at 4:00 p.m

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

The company’s promises may seem ambitious, but it has proven that it delivers on its promises, Mr Nadjari says in an interview with The presson the fringes of his visit to the Montreal Conference.

“We’ve been here for 18 months,” he says, along with former Liberal Prime Minister Philippe Couillard, head of Britishvolt’s Canadian office. “Who else did that?” We’ve been here and built relationships. »

Founded in 2019, Britishvolt is no longer a start-up company, says its head. Last February, it secured CA$2.6 billion in funding, including around CA$155 million from the UK government, to open a lithium-ion cell factory in the UK. It currently has 300 employees.

Cell manufacturing is the last step before battery assembly. Mr. Nadjari hopes to be the one to fill in this step in the chain.

However, he was stingy with details about the progress of the last few months. Britishvolt has targeted the land on which it wants to establish itself in the Bécancour industrial park, the ideal place to develop the battery sector, but it’s not one of them yet.

Mr. Nadjari also did not detail his financial claims in Quebec and Ottawa, which have backed companies including the joint venture formed by General Motors (GM) and Posco, as well as BASF, in recent months. Also not a word about the funds collected from private investors.

“If we can execute our vision with Quebec’s strengths [comme l’hydroélectricité]we are talking about a factory with at least 50 gigawatt hours (GWh),” starts the head of Britishvolt.


PHOTO PHILIPPE BOIVIN, THE PRESS

Orral Nadjari, Founder and CEO of Britishvolt

Not choosing Britishvolt would be a huge mistake due to the issues we have just resolved.

Orral Nadjari, Founder and CEO of Britishvolt

Such a complex, divided into several phases, would supply about 500,000 electric vehicles annually. This estimate was provided by NorthVolt when announcing a similar project in Sweden last winter.

more questions

According to Nadjari, talks with the Legault government are going well. However, the analysis in Quebec is not yet complete. In particular, before making an investment, we want to get an idea of ​​Britishvolt’s North American customers. In Europe, letters of intent have been signed with Aston Martin and Lotus, but they are not yet firm deals.

We want to make sure there are outlets for what is produced and guarantees with customers.

A government source not authorized to speak publicly

In both Quebec and Ottawa, the company is on the register of lobbyists, specifically to solicit funding. According to the Federal Register, two exchanges took place last May with François-Philippe Champagne, Federal Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, and his chief of staff Ian Foucher.

In the old continent, Britishvolt enjoys a good reputation and is considered a “reputable company,” according to an industry analyst who asked not to be named.

Like new players in the battery industry, the company faces two major challenges: ensuring an adequate supply of battery materials (cathodes and anodes) and attracting customers. According to this analyst, it’s the only way for companies like Britishvolt to carve out a place in a market occupied by the big automakers.

she [Britishvolt] seem isolated for the time being. There are question marks at both ends of the string. That’s a big challenge for a company like this because it’s competing with companies that already make cells.

An industry analyst who wishes not to be named

Britishvolt’s efforts have taken another step: ensuring it gets sufficient amounts of hydroelectric power for its very energy-intensive project. With the era of surpluses over, Hydro-Québec is now more selective. The state body has begun distributing its analysis grids to project promoters seeking access to 50 megawatts or more to assess the impact of each of the proposals.

Britishvolt has to go through the process.

Learn more

  • 10 billion
    Sum of the private and public investments that could be required for the development of the battery sector.

    SOURCE: Government of Quebec

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