500 jobs on way as hi-tech battery firm charges into South Yorkshire

A hi-tech battery company which is driving the switch to electric vehicles is set to open a £28m factory and create 500 jobs in South Yorkshire.

Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 2:33 pm

The Ultimate Battery Company is looking at sites in Sheffield and Rotherham for a new facility it hopes will be up and running within 12 months.

The Manchester-based firm has developed lighter, smaller, more powerful batteries that can be charged quickly.

WHAT IS REVOLUTIONARY ABOUT THE BATTERIES?

From left: (Front) Maurizio Cunningham-Brown CEO and founder of Ultimate Battery Company, Malcolm Earp Chief Operating Officer and Chief Commercial Officer of UBC, Dr Keith Ellis, Chief Security Officer and Dr Steve Bowles, AMRC Team Leader.

For the first time, they make buying and owning an electric car cheaper than petrol or diesel, it is claimed. And the technology can be applied to any chemistry of battery.

The firm presented to 15 Local Enterprise Partnerships around the country, ultimately receiving 10 offers, including of financial support.

WHY DID UBC CHOOSE SOUTH YORKSHIRE?

Boss Maurizio Cunningham-Brown said they chose South Yorkshire after an offer of a £3.2m loan and £2m grant from the Mayoral Combined Authority, the LEP’s parent body.

Also key to the decision was advice from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, part of Sheffield University. Experts ‘tweaked’ the batteries and developed methods for mass manufacturing, Mr Cunningham-Brown said.

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He added: “The MCA has an awesome ‘can do’ attitude and the AMRC people are practical and engineering-minded, they were pivotal to us coming here.”

Malcolm Earp, chief commercial officer, said their technology would mean a switch to electric vehicles ‘long before the 2040 target’.

He added: “The main reason for the slow uptake of electric vehicles is the increased cost compared with a traditional combustion engine motor vehicle.

“Our new battery changes the dynamics – not only will the electric vehicles achieve purchase price parity with traditional cars, but total cost of ownership will be significantly less in terms of both lower operating and maintenance costs.”

The firm’s first generation batteries are drop-in replacements in petrol and diesel vehicles which are up to 15kg lighter.

The second generation, coming within two years, will fit in electric vehicles and cost a third of current EV batteries, Mr Cunningham-Brown said.

They also aimed to supply automotive, defence and aerospace manufacturers, he added.

WHAT DID GARETH MORGAN SAY?

For Gareth Morgan, SYMCA senior business development manager for trade and investment, it was a final deal before retirement.

He said: “We are very pleased to welcome UBC to South Yorkshire, and we look forward to supporting the business further as it embarks on its ambitious growth plans.”

Steve Foxley, CEO of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “It has been a great pleasure to work with the Ultimate Battery Company around its manufacturing innovations for energy storage technology and we are delighted to see they are now building on that collaboration with inward investment into South Yorkshire, close to the research expertise of the AMRC.

“We look forward to working with them on future projects, accelerating the journey to net zero and opening up new opportunities around cheaper, greener future energy systems.”

WHICH OTHER COMPANIES HAVE BEEN SUPPORTED BY THE TAXPAYER?

The South Yorkshire MCA aims to invest £170m into 137 high growth companies creating 7,000 jobs.

Recent funding packages include £1.5m for a £14m Gene Therapy Innovation & Manufacturing Centre near the AMRC on Sheffield Business Park, set to create 35 ‘high value’ jobs, and a £5m grant and £2m loan for a £17m new factory for compressor company Lontra in Doncaster opening in 2022 and set to create 300 jobs.

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