18 January 2023

Oxfordshire battery plant to open next year with around 300 new jobs

18 January 2023

WAE Technologies is set to open a new battery plant in Oxfordshire in April, creating around 300 jobs.

The technology and engineering business, which was the technical offshoot of Formula 1 team Williams, confirmed the news after owner Andrew Forrest announced plans for the factory in Davos.

The positive industry news comes a day after Electric car battery company Britishvolt slid into administration and made the majority of its roughly 300 workers redundant.

The company, which had plans to build a gigafactory to make the batteries in Northumberland, appointed administrators at EY after failing to raise enough cash for its research and the development of its site near Blyth.

On Wednesday, Mr Forrest, who owns Australian iron ore giant Fortescue and purchased WAE last year, told Sky News that the company will build the plant in Kidlington to make batteries for heavy goods vehicles.

Speaking on the fringes of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Aat Davos, the entrepreneur told the broadcaster: “We invested heavily in British technology, British knowhow and British work ethic last year.

“But then we’ve said: ‘Listen, it’s great you’ve got the most advanced, innovative prototype batteries in the world… but we’ve got to get into manufacturing’.

“So last year, we started building a large factory in Kidlington. We’ll open it in April.

“It will [create] hundreds and hundreds of new British jobs.”

The site will be much smaller than the planned Britishvolt factory but will nevertheless be widely welcomed.

Following the collapse of Britishvolt of Tuesday, Parliament’s business committee also launched an inquiry into UK electric vehicle battery production.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said the inquiry will probe the supply of batteries for electric vehicle manufacturing in the UK and the viability of production in the UK.

Recent turbulence in the UK electric vehicle sector also saw BMW announce in October that it would be halting production of the electric Mini at its Oxford site.

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