Britishvolt has made major strides during the pandemic, according to Carlstrom. “It’s given us the opportunity to be on the front line as competitors have left the scene,” he said. “With Brexit, many rivals were worried, and when Covid-19 hit, all competition left. We’ve worked very hard during this time to achieve a lot in the UK.”
While Carlstrom expects Britishvolt to open the first large-scale EV battery-making facility in the UK, he predicts there will be two or three other similar sites in the future. He explained: “Demand in the UK in 2025 to 2027 will be 50GWh, and we’re building a factory for 30GWh. Demand is so much higher than supply.
“The risk is fairly low with us. If we [the UK] don’t get an EU trade agreement, it will affect Jaguar Land Rover, for instance. Fewer cars means fewer batteries. But we’re not worried; we have great attention from many OEMs in the UK. We’re very optimistic about the current market.
“We’ve had our eyes for a long time on the UK; Europe is more competitive in terms of other facilities. We’re living in a perfect storm. I think it’s a bit strange that no one has identified [what’s needed]; there seems to have been some paralysis in the UK about Brexit. We’re in a really perfect place for building this factory without competition.
“Our goal is to be the most sustainable [EV] battery manufacturer in the world. We’re working hard with the supply chain to bring it as close to the UK as possible.”
Carlstrom predicted that importing batteries from Asia, where the majority are currently produced, will eventually incur taxes. “Batteries are very cost-efficient if you import them from Asia,” he said, “but if you look further down the road, I’m quite sure you will see environmental taxes from Asian imports.
“Transporting heavy batteries has a huge impact on the environment. You can’t say you’re building a sustainable car while transporting batteries long distances.”
Britishvolt has already started to recruit scientists and skilled engineers, and Carlstrom described the UK as having “amazingly skilled professionals within battery technology”. Its most recent appointment is Dr Allan Paterson who joins as chief technical officer. Paterson was previously The Faraday Institution’s head of programme management, leading research into lithium-ion batteries and tasked with garnering industry, academia and government resource to accelerate progress.