Swedish partners select gigafactory site
Volvo, Northvolt to build 50GWh battery plant in Gothenburg Metal Tech News - February 7, 2022
Last updated 2/7/2022 at 4:24am
Powering its ambition to become a fully electric automaker by 2030, Volvo Cars has teamed up with Northvolt to build a 50-gigawatt-hour-per-year battery gigafactory in Gothenburg, Sweden.
"Our battery cell partnership with Northvolt is key to our strategic ambitions in electrification," said Volvo Cars Chief Executive Håkan Samuelsson. "We are committed to becoming a leader in the premium electric car segment and selling only pure electric vehicles by 2030."
Toward this commitment, the Swedish automaker is investing roughly US$3.3 billion (30 billion Swedish krona) in battery development and manufacturing.
With both Sweden-based companies being renowned for their ambitions in terms of both quality and sustainability, the partnership is a natural fit.
"Volvo Cars is an excellent partner on the road towards building up a supply of battery cells that are made in Europe with a very low carbon footprint, and that are optimized through vehicle integration to get the best performance out of the next generation EVs," said Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson.
The Swedish location of the lithium battery plant provides a direct route to Volvo's largest car plant, a renewable energy supply, a competent workforce, and is near both companies' research and development facilities.
"Establishing this gigafactory in Gothenburg is a decisive move, both to continue to transform one of the most dynamic automotive regions in the world, and to become the leading global supplier of sustainable batteries, said Carlsson.
At 78 kilowatt-hours, which is currently the standard capacity of fully electric Volvo models, the Gothenburg factory would manufacture enough batteries for roughly 640,000 Volvo and Polestar EVs produced by the Swedish automaker.
Polestar is a Swedish premium EV manufacturer founded by Volvo in 2017. The company entered the EV space in 2019 with Polestar 1, a limited-edition 619 horsepower performance hybrid with a carbon-fiber body.
Polestar 2, the company's first fully-electric high-volume car, offers three versions with a combination of long- and standard range batteries and dual- and single-motor powertrains. Over the next three years, the Swedish manufacturer will introduce three new EVs – Polestar 3, a performance SUV; Polestar 4, a smaller SUV coupe; and Polestar 5, a performance 4-door GT that represents a production version of Polestar Precept concept EV unveiled by the automaker in 2020.
Volvo itself is rapidly phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles and plans to have fully electric Volvo models make up half of its sales volume by 2025, which coincides with the scheduled completion of the Northvolt-Volvo battery gigafactory in Gothenburg.
Construction of this facility to produce state-of-the-art battery cells for next-generation Volvo and Polestar EVs is expected to get underway in 2023.
Once operational, this gigafactory will create up to 3,000 jobs and complement a joint research and development center being built by Volvo and Northvolt in Gothenburg. The facility is in addition to the individual battery research campuses the two companies have already established in Sweden.
The partners will focus on developing tailor-made batteries and vehicle integration concepts that will provide Volvo and Polestar drivers with long-range and quick charging times.
Establishing deep vertical integration of battery development and production is important for Volvo and Polestar, since the battery represents the largest individual cost component in an EV, as well as a major part of the carbon footprint.
Toward lowering the carbon footprint of battery manufacturing, a key objective for both companies, the Gothenburg plant will be powered by fossil-free energy with focus on driving renewable energy capacity in the region.
"Our new battery plant will support our ambition to have a fully climate neutral manufacturing network and secure a supply of high-quality batteries for years to come," said Javier Varela, head of engineering and operations at Volvo Cars. "Through our partnership with Northvolt we will also benefit greatly from an end-to-end battery value chain, from raw material to complete car, ensuring optimal integration in our cars."
The development of this battery plant, which will be one of the largest in Europe, is expected to benefit greatly from the addition of former Tesla executive Adrian Clarke to lead the production company.
Clarke helped design Tesla's Gigafactory Nevada and was more recently led the factory design and construction at Tesla's Gigafactory in Berlin.
Volvo and Northvolt are looking to round out their battery-making team with highly skilled engineers and team leaders they are actively recruiting to advance the Gothenburg gigafactory. Large-scale recruitment of plant operators and technicians will begin late 2023.