Elon Musk of Essex moves Royal Mail electric truck maker to US

After running into financial problems, Royal Mail’s supplier of electric lorries will relocate its headquarters in the US as part of a merger with an American-listed company.

Tevva Motors is a start-up in Essex that makes electric and hydrogen powered trucks. It has merged with ElectraMeccanica – an electric vehicle manufacturer listed on Nasdaq.

Tevva was founded by Asher Bennett a decade earlier, who is the brother of Israel’s former Prime Minister Naftali and known as “Elon Musk of Essex. As its cash reserves were dwindling, it had to let go of employees as well as face legal demands from its suppliers.

Susan Docherty is the chief executive of ElectraMeccanica in Mesa.

Tevva will continue to manufacture and engineer in Tilbury from where it will service UK and European clients. It will also inherit ElectraMeccanica’s larger manufacturing facility in Arizona where it plans on starting production by 2026.

The company is the latest of a long line of British firms to seek a US listing amid higher valuations and generous incentives offered for electric cars.

Arrival is a British electric van manufacturer that shifted to the US in the first half of this year, to take advantage the subsidies offered by the Biden administration.

Tevva began manufacturing 7.5-tonne truck with a range of 140 miles in the UK. Customers include logistics companies Kinaxia, and TG Lyons.

It is expected to deliver its vehicle to Royal Mail within the next few weeks. Later, it will develop an electric lorry equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell “range extender”, which will allow the vehicle to travel 280 miles without charging.

David Roberts, Tevva’s director and executive chairman, told reporters that the company was in talks with private investors to raise funds, but the market had been “terrible” at raising capital.

ElectraMeccanica held $89m (£70m), while Tevva was being chased by its suppliers for late payment.

Mr Roberts stated that the US subsidy was not behind this move, but added “we (the UK) need to wake as a nation if we want to invest in electric cars”.

ElectraMeccanica launched a three-wheeled, one-seat electric car named the Solo, which cost $18,500. However, it was forced to recall 428 of the models sold because of safety concerns.

The shares of the company had fallen since its flotation in 2018. Last year, it hired Ms Docherty to help turn things around. She was a former General Motors executive.

Mr Bennett won’t be on the board of the company, but Mr Roberts stated that he will retain a role focusing on innovation.

Tevva shareholders own 76.5 percent of the combined company.

The taxpayer invests in Tevva via the Future Fund. Rishi’s pandemic scheme to support loss-making startups.