The UK’s proud announcement of a £4 billion ($4.15 billion) gigafactory investment is struggling to keep hopes up for the country’s EV battery industry, with another local manufacturer days away from bankruptcy.

History could soon repeat itself as Thurso-based battery manufacturer AMTE Power confirms its financial situation is becoming “ever more critical.” In a security filing to the London Stock Exchange on 20 July, the company warned it needs to implement a solution within “the next few business days.”

In late June, it said it understood it had been awarded a £398,000 grant by the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre to produce cells at the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) but was waiting for details from the government. The potential help, however, would only be accessible on completion of defined production. That means it would have no impact on the company’s current financial position.

ATME Power’s management says “active discussions” with existing and potential investors are ongoing, but there can be no certainty a deal would be made, in which case putting the company into administration is “ever more likely.”

“In the event that the company is put into administration, trading of its shares on AIM would be suspended with immediate effect. Accordingly, should the company be unable to secure additional funding, the prospects for recovery of value, if any, by shareholders would be remote,” the filing states.

AMTE Power says it has been producing cells for over 30 years at its factory in Scotland, and is one of the only companies making battery cells in the UK today. It has developed both lithium-ion and sodium-ion cells for different applications. The challenge so far has been securing funding to commercialise its technologies on scale.

It had planned to ramp up cell production at its Thurso factory in Scotland and at UKBIC production lines, while progressing its proposed megafactory in Dundee, Scotland. The new plant should start its 500-megawatt capacity in 2026 and eventually scale up to gigafactory level. However, the company has recently noted better incentive and financial support prospects abroad, mulling moving its plans to the US instead. 

While the daring situation would kill 200 new jobs at the planned Dundee factory, plus existing jobs elsewhere, the collapse of ATME Power would also delay the potential for sodium-ion battery technology in the country. The company says it’s the first European company to obtain UN testing certification for these cells, dominantly produced in China. The certification enables the safe transport of the cells for testing and qualification trials.

On 18 July, the UK announced Tata Motors will build a 40-gigawatt-hour cell plant in Somerset to supply its subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover and other auto manufacturers. It did not, however, disclose how much incentive it offered to attract the investment. Reports suggest the deal reached £500m, which is five times the amount offered to Britishvolt – a UK battery start-up that collapsed in January.