TVR frustration over Ebbw Vale factory renovation delays

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The TVR prototype driving round LondonImage source, Jayson Fong
Image caption,
The prototype has now been road tested, but there is still a question mark over the renovations of the Ebbw Vale factory where it will be made

TVR's chairman says the car maker is "completely committed" to opening a plant employing 200 people in Ebbw Vale - despite severe delays in the Welsh Government's renovations of the site.

The government said "advanced discussions are under way with our selected building contractor".

It added the plant would become TVR's factory once the company had raised the finance it needed to make the cars.

TVR had hoped to start delivering the first cars to customers a year ago.

It plans to take on around 80 people initially at the former Techboard factory on the Rassau industrial estate, and 200 when production is fully up and running.

Company chairman Les Edgar told BBC Wales the derelict factory's renovations had overrun because of the EU-wide tendering process, which eventually awarded the work to Jones Bros from Ruthin.

This was a slower process than he had anticipated, he added.

There have also been bigger structural problems with the building than expected, and it was damaged by an illegal rave in the summer of 2018.

The prototype of the TVR Griffith - made in Guildford - has been shown at car fairs for two years but has now been tested on the streets of London..

Mr Edgar said all 500 of the launch edition cars have all been pre-sold, with deposits paid.

The car costs around £90,000 depending on the specification.

Image caption,
The former Techboard factory on the Rassau industrial estate, pictured a year ago, remains derelict

Mr Edgar also said the company was committed to using Welsh suppliers as much as possible.

"We're in the hands of the contractors and Welsh Government has to give the final go-ahead for the building," he said.

The delay has raised concerns the investment might not happen in an area which has already seen plans for the Circuit of Wales cancelled and no investment to date on the nearby Rhyd y Blew site where the Welsh Government has proposed a £100m Automotive Technology park.

However Mr Edgar has told BBC Wales he was confident the TVR car would be made in Wales in the near future.

The Welsh Government said it had an agreement to lease the plant "which will become TVR's factory once it has raised the necessary capital".

A spokesman added: "We recognise the economic opportunities associated with TVR's planned move to Blaenau Gwent and we continue to work proactively to support the company while it seeks to secure the private sector finance needed to commence vehicle production."

The Welsh Government owns a 3% stake in TVR and it gave the company a £2m loan which is repayable if the company does not move to Wales.