Lithium-ion battery maker Britishvolt partners Pininfarina to build first gigaplant in UK

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 29 Jul 2020


British battery manufacturer Britishvolt has partnered Italian design house Pininfarina to build the UK’s first large-scale battery gigaplant at the former RAF base of Bro Tathan in Wales. The site is closely situated to Aston Martin's new St Athan factory, home of the DBX SUV and its future electrified vehicles.

The 2.7-million-square-feet plant will have an annual battery production capacity of up to 35GWh, claims Britishvolt, giving it an output on a par with Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada, US.

The move is intended to make Britishvolt a global leader in producing high-performance lithium ion batteries, with the firm claiming it will “become one of the largest industrial investments in British history”. No details on investment have been announced, but it will include government funding. 

The UK government has previously been vocal in backing a UK gigafactory, no doubt grasping its importance for the future of the UK car industry. Only last year, outgoing Jaguar Land Rover boss Sir Ralf Speth said: “If batteries go out of the UK, then automotive production will go out of the UK.”

While creating new paradigms of eco-sustainable, and zero emission mobility, the Turin-based design house Pininfarina says it is fully committed to a significant number of electric propulsion solutions in various segments of the mobility ecosystem. Explaining the thought behind the partnership, the priority for Britishvolt was to partner with a company with expertise in this field, that could design a facility that is both sensitive to its surroundings, as well as open and welcoming to the local residents.

Orral Nadjari, CEO and founder, Britishvolt said: “We are honoured to collaborate with world-renowned design powerhouse Pininfarina, to create our landmark gigaplant. At Britishvolt, we believe in prioritising an innovative design to match the future quality of our lithium-ion cells. With Pininfarina bringing the full force of its elegance and heritage in automotive design to architecture, we believe we can accomplish this desire. Britishvolt’s aim to become the world’s first zero-carbon battery manufacturer aligns perfectly with Pininfarina’s expertise in creating green, high-tech and innovative environments. With carefully selected sustainable materials that take into account the entire building’s life cycle, Pininfarina’s appreciation of social impact is what drew us to this partnership. Their balance between pioneering design and understanding of local culture, is one Britishvolt is proud to take forward.”

Silvio Pietro Angori, CEO, Pininfarina said: “We are proud to collaborate with Britishvolt on such an ambitious project, thus contributing towards creating the UK’s largest battery manufacturing facility and advancing the evolution of e-mobility. Our focus has always been on combining timeless design with social and environmental sustainability, both in automotive design and architecture. Sustainable design is no longer an option to consider down the line, it’s a necessary commitment to create social and economic value for future generations.”

Giovanni de Niederhausern, senior VP of Architecture at Pininfarina: “2020 marks the 90th anniversary of Pininfarina. Over the years, we have been able to draw on the expertise gained in the automotive world and apply this to architecture, starting from Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) methodologies for off-site construction, up to the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to evaluate and improve the building’s life-cycle performance.”

Nadjari concluded: “We are aware of the significant impact our 2.7 million square feet gigaplant will have on the region’s landscape. Interacting with the local community will be a priority for us, and we will ensure that a regular dialogue with the residents and businesses of Bro Tathan takes place. We want this structure to stand as a beautiful testament to the local culture, our greener future, and the country’s world-class expertise in battery research and development – which will only continue to grow.”

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