The British car battery champion wants to woo Elon Musk’s Tesla

The British car battery champion wants to woo Elon Musk’s Tesla

Britishvolt Tesla Elon Musk - Britishvolt/PA Wire

Britishvolt Tesla Elon Musk – Britishvolt/PA Wire

A British electric car battery maker is targeting Tesla as a customer by developing power cells designed to appeal to Elon Musk.

Britishvolt, which is building a Gigafactory in Blyth after raising £1.7billion, is working on lighter, cheaper batteries similar to the prototype 4680 cells Mr Musk’s company ordered from Panasonic earlier this year.

A source said if Britishvolt could supply Tesla with powerful batteries it would be “a win for the UK” and its battery research.

Britishvolt intends to focus on high-performance vehicles such as those from Lotus and Aston Martin, both of which have been secured as future customers.

Orral Nadjari, Chief Executive said: “We want to help electrify Britain.

“First, we’re going to focus on this type of niche high-performance end.”

According to sources, the company is developing so-called large-format cells to entice Tesla as a customer.

The 4,680 cells Mr Musk bought in February are larger and more energy dense than existing sizes. Combined into a battery pack, it is lighter and cheaper.

Britishvolt hopes to offer comparable models developed at its recently acquired company in Germany.

The company has also agreed to send some test cells to a blue-chip automaker in Europe and has negotiated early-stage supplier relationships with three European automakers, Mr Nadjari said. The company’s MOUs with Lotus and Aston are also seen as important early achievements.

While some industry figures have expressed skepticism about the company’s ability to compete with incumbent battery makers such as Japan’s Panasonic, Korea’s LG Chem and China’s CATL, and have indicated Britishvolt may need to sign some concrete orders soon, Mr Nadjari is optimistic.

He pointed to the number of gigafactories in China — 117, of which 226 are expected to be operational by the end of the decade, according to analysts at Benchmark Minerals — compared to Europe’s six, which will reach just 30 over the same period.

Mr Nadjari said: “The whole supply-demand imbalance in Europe actually has a direct impact on the UK and Britishvolt.

“It doesn’t matter how many you build now, you will run out of supplies.”

In order to comply with EU rules of origin, which dictate that a certain proportion of the value of a product must originate in a country in order for it to be considered there, most cars made in Europe must also have their batteries produced there.

The European auto industry will need significantly more capacity, Mr Nadjuri said, especially if it’s serious about being green, as shipping half-ton batteries from China is anything but.

While Nissan is building its own factories to supply its massive Sunderland plant and Jaguar Land Rover is reportedly considering other locations for its own supply, Mr Nadjari said demand for high-quality, energy-dense batteries will satisfy the company’s order book .

He said: “One size doesn’t fit all anymore as electrification progresses and you have to adapt the chemistry of the batteries to the specific application needs. And that’s where we differentiate ourselves.”

Mr Nadjari said the company had no immediate need for further funds following its £1.7billion deal with warehousing company Tritax and investment firm Abrdn, which was announced in January. He said he plans to list the company in London when the time is right.

Electric car charging with 10-minute delays in energy rationing

By Rachel Millard

Electric car charging will face 10-minute delays under new rules designed to protect the grid by rationing electricity during peak demand.

Starting later this month, installed chargers in homes and workplaces will need to be set up to reduce the strain on the electricity grid from the greener energy transition – and with it the cost to the public of grid upgrades.

This includes a “Random Delay” function, which means that the charging process can be delayed by ten minutes if necessary to avoid overloading the network. It would help avoid sudden surges in demand, for example due to a price drop in time-of-use tariffs.

According to the regulations coming into force on June 30, charging stations must also be able to operate with a delay of up to 30 minutes in case the regulations change.

Chargers need to be “smart” so they can send and receive data about electricity demand and supply for the balancing functions to work.

The number of electric vehicles on Britain’s roads will increase sharply in the coming years ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars.

At the same time, the growing share of wind and solar power generation is making the power system more difficult as supply is fluctuating.

Officials hope car charging can be managed to balance the electricity system, by charging cars overnight when electricity is cheaper, or even selling electricity back to the grid when prices are high.

To encourage this, the new rules also require chargers to be sold either with agreements allowing charging to be postponed to other times of the day, or with standard off-peak charging times that can be overridden by the owner.

Drivers can also override the delay settings. Jordan Brompton, co-founder of myenergi, which sells smart home chargers for electric vehicles, said “most drivers won’t even notice the rule changes”.

She added: “Forward-thinking EV drivers should embrace smart charging. It is helping to future-proof our electricity grid and shows that the UK is at the forefront in preparing for the widespread roll-out of clean and environmentally friendly driving.”

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