A British startup aiming to open the country’s first high-volume lithium ion battery plant in the fourth quarter of 2023 has appointed two industry veterans as advisers.
Britishvolt on Wednesday said Joe Bakaj, Ford’s former European vice president of product development, and Nick Spencer, a former BMW and Jaguar Land Rover executive, have joined the company’s advisory board.
Bakaj, a 2011 Automotive News All-Star, spent more than 30 years with Ford. As vice president of global powertrain a decade ago, Bakaj oversaw the engineering teams that created many of the engines in Ford’s trendsetting EcoBoost engine lineup, including the award-winning 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbo. He was also responsible for the Focus Electric and hybrid versions of the Fusion sedan and C-Max. He finished his career with the automaker leading product development in Europe, where perhaps his signature vehicle was the Ford Focus RS high-performance compact. Since retiring from Ford in 2018, Bakaj has worked as a consultant and with Detroit idea incubator Motormindz.
Spencer retired from Jaguar Land Rover last month, closing out a nearly six-year stint there, where he began as the company’s global powertrain production and manufacturing engineering director. JLR launched its line of Ingenium gasoline and diesel engines in a new plant in one of Spencer’s first assignments. Before JLR, Spencer spent 16 years at BMW, according to his LinkedIn profile. There, Spencer worked in purchasing and electronics and was managing director of the company’s Hams Hall engine plant in the U.K., which makes three- and four-cylinder engines for Minis and BMWs.
Britishvolt is investing about $3 billion to build its plant in northeastern England. It will be coming online just as JLR and many other European automakers begin scaling up production of electric vehicles. JLR, for instance, has pledged to convert Jaguar to an EV-only brand by 2025 and launch six electric Land Rovers by 2024. Volvo has set a goal of phasing out its gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030.
Last fall, the British government said it was working on plans to ban the sale of vehicles powered only by gasoline and diesel engines by 2030, allowing gasoline- and diesel-electric hybrid vehicles until 2035.
Britishvolt spokesman Ben Kilbey says the company eventually plans to produce batteries in North America.