First it was saving the Whyalla steelworks, now British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has revealed plans to build electric cars in Adelaide at the site of the recently closed Holden site.
A letter from South Australia treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, obtained by The Advertiser, has called on General Motors Holden to consider a GFG Alliance offer – of which Gupta is executive chairman – to buy assets from the closed factory.
“We are incredibly excited and supportive of the GFG Alliance’s bid and subsequent plans to ensure the continuation of our very proud history of automotive excellence and innovation in South Australia,” Koutsantonis wrote.
“We believe that the GFG Alliance’s plans would put South Australia at the forefront of the inevitable transition of the Australian market to electric vehicles and ask that all due consideration be given to their bid and the potentially significant benefits to the automotive industry and broader community in South Australia.”
Gupta is said to be considering using the former Holden site as a manufacturing base for EVs using “iStream technology”, a lightweight manufacturing process that can reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 40 per cent over their lifecycle.
Melbourne developer Pelligra Group was in December revealed as the buyer of the Holden plant following its closure, and has committed to leasing about 30 per cent of the site back to Holden so it can continue its parts and servicing operations. It is not known where on the site GFG Alliance is proposing to manufacture its EVs.
Even the federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg – who has been locked in bitter disputes over energy policy with South Australian premier Jay Weatherill – welcomed the news.
“[Mr Gupta] has some exciting plans for South Australia, and if he wants to invest in creating more jobs then of course we would always welcome that,” he told ABC Radio National.
He said Mr Gupta had proven himself to be an entrepreneur who “gets results”.