TVR loses rights to Welsh factory

2 months ago - 22 December 2023, autocar
TVR loses rights to Welsh factory
Loss of Ebbw Vale site means Griffith sports car is still without a factory six years after reveal

TVR has lost the rights to a new Welsh factory in Ebbw Vale where its long-delayed Griffith sports car was planned to enter production.

Six years after revealing the V8-engined Griffith, TVR is still without a production line to build the car, following the Welsh government's decision to put the site back on the open market, according to the South Wales Argus. 

Councillors in Blaenau Gwent County, where the Ebbw Vale site is located, have reportedly been told by the Welsh government that TVR's exclusive rights to the facility have lapsed, and it will now be offered to other parties. 

The Argus quotes corporate director for regeneration and community services Ellie Fry as saying: “We’ve had a number of enquiries over the past six months for a building of that size – we will be definitely looking at all those enquires.

“It’s a popular size as there are few buildings like this available in South East Wales.

Despite having no factory site earmarked, TVR has also outlined plans to launch an electric version of the coupé, plus an electric saloon and SUV at some point in the future, both based on a skateboard platform supplied by an unnamed, but "highly established" and "world-leading" partner firm. 

The product plan was revealed last year following investment from lithium firm Ensorcia Automotive, and forms part of a strategy to make TVR a global luxury marque.

The brand has now said it "continues to discuss various locations for car production with the Welsh government, as we have done for several years," suggesting it still plans to produce cars in the country. The Welsh government has a 3% stake in TVR, following an investment in 2016; TVR was loaned £2 million as part of that deal, which has since been repaid. 

TVR said that it chose the Ebbw Vale site when the Welsh government had plans to build a race circuit next door - the ill-fated Circuit of Wales project. "When that project did not proceed," it said, "there remained a need for TVR to have a customer facility close to a motorsport venue"

TVR CEO Jim Berriman suggested to Autocar last year that the Welsh site was not critical to the company's plans: "The key to our assembly process is that it can be set up very quickly, but all our decisions have to be taken with the longer-term plans for the firm in mind. 

"The UK will always be the centre of this brand, but we expect to be agile enough to look at production in other locations as we seek to expand our plans globally.

In a new development, the firm has confirmed a new operational base at the Thruxton race circuit in Hampshire.

TVR gave no timeframe for the completion of the new facility, nor has it said exactly what it plans to do at the site, but said it plans to use the track for "testing and refining its cutting-edge sports cars, ensuring the meet the highest standard of performance and quality".

TVR says it plans to benefit from the "local skilled employment demographic" around Thruxton as it gears up to put its new models into production, but has not outlined how large the workforce will be, nor when it plans to begin operations at the site.

TVR chairman Les Edgar said: "When looking for a brand centre that would be fitting for both the history of the TVR brand and the attributes of our new range of sports cars, we could not have imagined that the perfect venue was almost on our doorstep. 

"Thruxton motor circuit - formed a few years after the founding of TVR - has the history, the excitement and the future potential to be an exceptional venue for all motorsport activities and we are delighted to be an integral part of this journey. Having considered a number of potential sites, Thruxton offered everything needed for future expansion, test facilities and customer experience – straight out of the box."

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