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Monday / 4 July 2022
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Lotus exploring electric-car battery technologies

Lotus and Britishvolt have signed a preliminary agreement to explore teaming up on battery manufacturing, research, and development, according to people familiar with the matter.

The companies plan to share details of their memorandum of understanding next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified ahead of the announcement. Representatives for Lotus and Britshvolt declined to comment.

The deal is Britishvolt’s first official tie-up with a carmaker and an important step for the company looking to cement its credibility with prospective investors.

The firm has done two rounds of fundraising and said last year it’s considering listing in London. Britishvolt has begun work on a 2.6 billion-pound (R52.22 billion) battery plant in Blyth, England, that it has said will create about 3,000 jobs.

The U.K. government will back the project with an unspecified amount from its Automotive Transformation Fund, a 1 billion-pound (R20.47 billion) program to help build factories that can produce batteries at scale.

The grant will unlock a 1.7 billion-pound (R34.8 billion) investment from asset manager abrdn Plc and logistics real estate investor Tritax Group, Britishvolt said Friday in a statement.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is eager to build up a local cell-making industry as the U.K. prepares to ban sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2030.

His government is trying to avoid falling behind in a transcontinental competition to chip away at the dominance of Asian battery manufacturers.

Brexit Tariffs

The U.K.’s auto industry trade group has warned the country’s carmakers have little time to scale up a local battery-making capacity before the Brexit deal reached in late 2020 subjects vehicles to stricter content requirements for tariff-free trade.

Britishvolt has said its factory will be operational by the end of 2023 and eventually produce enough cells for more than 300,000 electric vehicles a year.

Nissan said last year it will create a 1 billion pound (R20.47 billion) EV-making hub in northern England. The Japanese automaker is partnering with a unit of China’s Envision Group, which is planning to build a battery factory in the region that will be ready in 2024 at the earliest.

Lotus owner Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is trying to bolster the iconic brand in China’s burgeoning EV market while keeping a manufacturing base in Britain.

Its long-awaited Emira sports car – which is set for delivery this year – will be the company’s last gasoline-only model.

With the Emira, alongside a plan to build electrified sport utility vehicles in China, Lotus is making progress on expanding beyond selling just a handful of cars each year that appeal to racing fans.

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