Asher Bennett, known as the “Elon Musk of Essex”, founded Tevva in 2012. Photo: Jeff Gilbert.
An electric truck company run by “Essex's Elon Musk” has been forced to fight a lawsuit over late payments as it lays off employees and tries to raise new funding.
Essex's Tevva Motors, which sold trucks to customers including Royal Mail, recently received a liquidation petition from an aluminum supplier due to repeated missed payments.
A liquidation petition, a legal motion to take a company into administration, is usually seen as a last resort when a supplier has exhausted other options to secure payment.
This is because Tevva, which has raised over £100m sterling from investors, including the British taxpayer, is laying off most of its staff.
The company said it is seeking new investment and making cuts in areas that do not affect its manufacturing operations.
Tevva was founded in 2012 by Asher Bennett, brother of former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali. Mr. Bennett has been nicknamed the “Elon Musk of Essex” because of his development of electric vehicles in the southern county.
The company has begun production of a 140-mile truck and plans to launch the next part-hydrogen-powered model.
Signed sales agreements with Royal Mail and Travis Perkins.
Tevva has unveiled plans to build a hydrogen-powered truck. Credit: SEC Newgate/PA
A winding-up petition was filed by Hadleigh Castings, an Ipswich aluminum smelter, earlier this month. The company demanded £84,011.76 for five outstanding invoices, plus interest and compensation.
The documents state: “Despite numerous requests by the plaintiff, the company was unable to pay the above invoices or provide any reason why the invoices were not paid. has not been paid. Therefore, the petitioner believes that the company is insolvent and unable to pay its debts as they fall due.”
The petition was withdrawn last week and Tevva said it had paid the amount due. Hadleigh Castings did not respond to a request for comment.
Tevva has yet to file its 2021 returns with Companies House, which was due late last year.
A spokesperson said: “Tevva is taking steps to optimize performance, ensure sustainable growth and protect our business in the long term. – long-term viability and success.
“The external environment remains challenging for our industry and the company is taking decisive action to achieve operational excellence to ensure long-term success.”
The spokesperson said that they are making cuts “in areas that don't affect the company's ability to focus on building trucks and delivering them to eager customers.”
The company said it was in the process of filing a report, adding that Tevva was in ” ongoing discussions with financiers that will conclude soon.”
Mr Bennett recently said he received repeated calls from US officials seeking to lure the company to America with huge subsidies.
Taxpayer is a shareholder in Tevva through the Future Fund, which has invested in startups during the pandemic.