'Billionaire Sanjeev Gupta may switch electric car plans to Victoria from SA' Simon Evans, AFR
British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta is eyeing a potential switch to Victoria for his plans to establish an electric car manufacturing hub in Australia after being spurned in his push to secure parts of the Holden manufacturing infrastructure to give him a head start in South Australia.
Mr Gupta said different options were being scrutinised for the plans which involve using a prototype developed by United Kingdom firm Gordon Murray Design.
"We're examining options in Victoria and South Australia," Mr Gupta said.
"We will bring it to whatever is the best place. In some ways it is easier to start from scratch," he said.
Mr Gupta several months ago had been striving to buy some of the Holden manufacturing infrastructure at the Elizabeth site in Adelaide's northern suburbs to give his plans early momentum, but that came to a dead end.
He said having that former Holden infrastructure option would have been a solid start.
"We were hoping to have a short-cut," he said.
The main focus for Mr Gupta is the reinvigoration of the former Arrium business in Australia, which he acquired for about $700 million, which gave him ownership of the Whyalla steelworks and smaller steel mills in Sydney and Melbourne. He used the entity known as the GFG Alliance to buy the Arrium assets. He is also advancing plans to become a big player in renewable energy and battery storage in Australia, with plans for a bigger battery than Elon Musk's Tesla built last year in South Australia. GFG bought a controlling stake in ZEN Energy in 2017. But Mr Gupta said the electric vehicle plans were an important but smaller part of its Australian aspirations.
He said the Whyalla steel operations needed more improvement but were showing the right signs. "It's going in the right direction," he said.
GFG Alliance is part of the Gupta family's business empire across the world which has annual revenue of US$11 billion. The companies include the integrated industrial and metals business Liberty House and SIMEC, a shipping, infrastructure and metals trading group.
Mr Gupta said he had a very strong relationship with new South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, which was possibly better than the one he developed with former Premier Jay Weatherill, who lost the March state election. This ended 16 years of Labor governments in the state.
"I have a very strong relationship with him (Mr Marshall). It's as strong if not stronger than the one with Mr Weatherill".
"He's a very big supporter of Whyalla," Mr Gupta said of Mr Marshall.
Mr Gupta in January outlined ambitious plans to establish an electric car manufacturing hub at the former Holden site in Adelaide.
GFG Alliance intends using a prototype developed by Gordon Murray Design, based in Shalford near Surrey in the United Kingdom. It is a design and engineering company which specialises in low-volume production runs, and utilises technology used in Formula One cars.
Mr Murray is credited with being one of the pioneers behind a 1991 McLaren Formula One car and is involved in cutting-edge automotive design using high-strength aluminium sections.
Melbourne-based property developer Pelligra Group was revealed as the buyer of the Holden site in mid-December. It plans to revamp the 123-hectare site into the Lionsgate Business Park under a master plan to be developed over almost two decades with a mixture of industrial, manufacturing, engineering and commercial usage.
Holden ended almost six decades of car manufacturing at the Elizabeth site in October, 2017, becoming the last local car maker to stop production, following shutdowns by Toyota a few weeks earlier and Ford in 2016.
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