After a year of refurbishment, a £12m taxpayer funded sports car factory in Wales has yet to produce any cars.
The local economy was expected to benefit from the move of the British sports car manufacturer TVR to the new site in Wales. It is planned to produce rear-wheel Griffith models powered by V8 engines and electric motors.
The company has yet to sign the lease because the remedial work is ongoing. Some customers have already paid £5,000 as a deposit for the car. Plans for this vehicle were first revealed in 2017.
The Welsh Government is not understood to have offered the lease to other tenants despite all the money they’ve invested in the site, and despite the fact that the factory was “ready for occupation”.
The Welsh government bought the site in 2021 at a price of £5.7m. Refurbishments were completed on the site last year for a total cost of £6.2m. The authority’s £100m Tech Valleys program, which aims to bring jobs to Blaenau Gwent north of Cardiff, provided funding of about £7m.
It is not clear how much the taxpayer spent to renovate the factory. According to a March 2020 written response to the Welsh parliament by the Minister of Economy, Transport and North Wales, the renovation cost £6.2m.
According to Land Registry documents, the Welsh Government purchased the Tech-board Factory for £5.7m on January 20, 2021. This suggests that the total cost may be £11.9m.
TVR claimed it had already occupied part of the plant. TVR Chairman Les Edgar stated: “We’ve already occupied part of the factory.” The Welsh Government is completing some necessary remedial work following the refurbishment.
The above is not a hindrance to our progress. We are working with our partners to develop both ICE (internal combustion engines) and EV (electric vehicles).
Welsh Government spokesperson said: “TVR selected a Welsh Government property in Ebbw Vale for its new production facility in South Wales. We are still in close contact with the company regarding the leasing of space. We hope to have it completed very soon.
The property has been refurbished and is ready to be occupied. It represents an excellent investment in a region with a strong manufacturing industry.
The Welsh Government and neither Mr Edgar responded to the question of the basis for the occupation of the site if the lease had not yet been signed.
Mr Edgar, an entrepreneur in the video games industry, purchased TVR from Russian Nikolay smolensky in 2013. In 2017, he revealed the Griffith, which is a five-litre front-engined V8 with rear-wheel-drive and manual transmission, developed with Gordon Murray, who was best known for his work with McLaren’s 243mph F1 Hypercar.
Since then, the company has tried to get the Griffith up and running. Coronavirus shutdowns have halted the progress of the Griffith, but last year the company announced that it expected to begin production in 2024.