TVR refuses to die with new backer and plans for three electric cars

Tamora Never Dies

The Blackpool-based maker of hard-edged British sports cars TVR has not built a new car since 2006, and a mooted relaunch five years ago stumbled, but a new financial backer and ambitious plans for three electric models in the coming years means it could finally be making a return.

Plans for a revival of TVR with a new V8-engined Griffith have been in the works since around 2013, when former owner, Russian banker Nikolay Smolensky, sold the company to a pair of British businessmen, Les Edgar and John Chasey. The new car, the company later said, would be launched in 2017, powered by a naturally-aspirated version of Ford’s Coyote V8 engine with tuning and modifications by Cosworth.

In 2016, it was announced that the Griffith and future TVR models would be built at a new factory in Ebbw Vale in south Wales, with the Welsh government having provided a £500,000 investment for a 3% stake in the company as well as a repayable £2m loan. The factory, it was promised, would provide employment to 150-200 people. 

First unveiled at the Goodwood Revival in 2017, the revived Griffith featured a 5-litre Ford Cosworth V8 engine, 200mph performance, a carbon-fibre ground-effect chassis and design work by McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray. Production was due to start in 2019. 

Since then, delay has followed delay with EU rules mandating that because of the Welsh government’s involvement in the project, the factory fit-out had to be put out to tender, which held up proceedings for as much as 18 months. 

By 2020, even though TVR claimed had orders in excess of £40m it still lacked to necessary funding to complete the factory and begin production of the Griffith.

Unsuccessful attempts were made to raise capital by selling bonds on the London stock exchange, and it’s unclear whether a subsequent effort to raise £25m on the Dublin stock exchange through the Irish firm Audacia Capital was successful. Either way, by 2021, the company still looked to be some way off commencing production of the Griffith.

New financial backing

In late 2021, TVR announced that it had received a “multimillion-pound” investment from the South American lithium mining consortium Ensorcia, a firm specialising in more efficient and eco-friendly means of lithium extraction. 

The scale of the investment isn’t clear at present, but Ensorcia’s background in lithium mining gave a hint as to what could be to come for TVR.

In April 2022 the company announced that it wouldn’t only launch an electric version of the Griffith by 2024 but also two other electric models in the coming years. Furthermore, to promote its electric ambitions, it struck a sponsorship deal with the Formula E racing series, with adverts for the company displayed at Formula E races in London and Monaco. 

Thanks to the Ensorcia investment, the firm said it would repay the £2m loan to the Welsh government by the end of September 2022.

What new TVRs are planned?

So far, TVR has released no information whatsoever about any of its planned electric models save for the fact that an electric Griffith could potentially see the light of day by 2024. 

The exterior design of the Griffith is ageing rapidly, and even if it does manage to emerge in the next year or so, it won’t be nearly as cutting edge as it was when it was revealed back in 2017.

With the Ford Mustang (with which the Griffith shares its base engine) due to go hybrid from 2024, it’s unclear how much life remains in the naturally-aspirated V8 and how long TVR could sustain production.

Electrification would seem logical, though there’s no sign yet as to how TVR will adapt the Griffith to suit an electric powertrain or what suppliers it might use. 

Although the prospect of seeing new TVRs rolling out of a new factory appears to be a little closer than before, the Griffith still has not yet entered production, and there have been other false dawns for the revived company in the past. 

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