Automotive

Published on June 22nd, 2021 | by Joshua Chin

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Volvo And Northvolt To Build European Battery Gigafactory

This partnership between will also see a battery R&D centre open in Sweden come 2022. 

Volvo has recently announced its intentions in establishing a joint venture with Swedish battery start-up Northvolt, to develop and supply the automaker with sustainable cells for its next generation of EVs. This comes ahead of the firm’s previously announced plans to sell 50% pure electric cars by the middle of this decade, and to only sell fully electric cars by 2030.

A 50:50 joint venture between the two parties, Volvo and Northvolt have since agreed to several interesting future developments. The most immediate one of which being a collaborative research centre to develop next-gen battery cells and vehicle integration technologies, that will be up and running in Sweden come 2022. 

Two years on from that in 2024 meanwhile, Volvo plans to source 15 GWh worth of these next-gen cells annually from Northvolt’s Ett battery plant in Skellefteå, Sweden. These battery packs are slated to be installed within the all new XC60 crossover, which the Swedish automaker has incidentally revealed will set to be a fully-electric model. 

Speaking of the upcoming XC60, the batteries for this upcoming e-SUV will also be sourced from a new European gigafactory that Volvo and Northvolt are planning to build. Details as to where exactly this new battery production facility will be located is still not disclosed at the present moment, but what is confirmed is that it will have the potential production capacity of 50 GWh per year and will be operational in 2026. 

To add to that too, this battery manufacturing plant is set to employ 3,000 people and be powered by 100% clean energy. The latter being of particular importance to Volvo’s sub-brand Polestar, which has the ambitious aim of producing a climate-neutral vehicle by 2030.  

According to Volvo, this joint venture will allow it to better tailor its future battery technologies to the needs of its customers. The Swedish automaker also states that Northvolt’s sustainable battery production methods will aid in its goal of reducing the environmental footprint attributable to battery sourcing and production for its future lineup. 

“Volvo Cars and Polestar are industry leaders in the transition to electrification and perfect partners on the journey ahead as we aim to develop and produce the world’s most sustainable battery cells,” said Peter Carlsson, Co-Founder and CEO of Northvolt. “We are proud to become their exclusive battery cell production partner in Europe.”

It is worth noting however that Northvolt isn’t only to be supplying batteries to Volvo and Polestar, as the Swedish battery producers have signed two other prior partnerships with other automakers. Volkswagen for instance had previously bought a 20% share in the Stockholm-based company two years back with plans to build a German battery gigafactory that will begin operation in 2024, while BMW agreed to a battery supply deal with them in 2020 worth €2 billion (RM 9.9 billion). 

Now getting back to Volvo on the other hand, further details regarding its future EV strategy and battery production roadmap will be revealed on the 30th of June at its ‘Volvo Cars Tech Moment’ event. 

PRESS RELEASE: Volvo Car Group intends to establish a joint venture with leading Swedish battery company Northvolt to develop and produce more sustainable batteries, tailored to power the next generation of pure electric Volvo and Polestar cars.

As a first step for the 50/50 joint venture, Volvo Car Group and Northvolt aim to set up a research and development centre in Sweden that will begin operations in 2022.

The centre is intended to build on the battery expertise within both companies and develop next-generation, state-of-the-art battery cells and vehicle integration technologies, specifically developed for use in Volvo and Polestar cars.

The planned joint venture will also establish a new gigafactory in Europe with a potential capacity of up to 50 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year. Production is scheduled to start in 2026.

As part of the plans, Volvo Car Group also looks to source 15 GWh of battery cells per year from the existing Northvolt Ett battery plant in Skellefteå, Sweden starting in 2024.

Alongside previously announced battery supply agreements, a partnership with Northvolt will secure the European battery cell needs that will drive Volvo Cars’ ambitious electrification plans. Volvo Cars aims to sell 50 per cent pure electric cars by the middle of this decade, and by 2030 it aims to sell only fully electric cars.

Today, the production of batteries for Volvo Car Group’s fully electric cars represents a large part of the car’s total lifecycle carbon emissions. By working with Northvolt, a leader in sustainable battery production, and producing batteries near its manufacturing facilities in Europe, Volvo Car Group can reduce the environmental footprint attributable to battery sourcing and production for its future cars.

“By working with Northvolt we will secure a supply of high-quality, more sustainable battery cells for our pure electric cars,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive at Volvo Car Group. “Working closely with Northvolt will also allow us to strengthen our in-house development capabilities.”

The new gigafactory, planned to be powered by 100 percent clean energy, is expected to employ around 3,000 people. The location of the new plant is yet to be decided. The first car to feature battery cells developed through the joint venture will be the electric successor to Volvo Cars’ best-selling XC60 model.

“Volvo Cars and Polestar are industry leaders in the transition to electrification and perfect partners on the journey ahead as we aim to develop and produce the world’s most sustainable battery cells,” said Peter Carlsson, Co-Founder and CEO of Northvolt. “We are proud to become their exclusive battery cell production partner in Europe.”

The partnership with Northvolt is key to Volvo Cars’ ambition to become a leader in the premium electric car segment and sell only pure electric vehicles by 2030. It also represents an important step in the expansion of Volvo Car Group’s in-house development competence, coupled with partnerships with true technology leaders.

For Polestar, it gives a further boost to its European growth ambitions and underlines its commitment to the Polestar 0 project which aims to create a truly climate neutral vehicle by 2030.

“Developing the next generation of battery cell technology in-house, together with Northvolt, will allow us to design batteries specifically for Volvo and Polestar drivers,” added Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. “With cells developed in-house for our electric cars we can focus on giving Volvo and Polestar customers what they want, such as range and short charging times.”

“Collaborating with Northvolt is an important step for our industrial network as we move towards all-out electrification by 2030,” said Javier Varela, head of industrial operations and quality. “Batteries are one of the most important parts in a fully electric car, and by partnering with Northvolt we ensure an efficient and cost-effective supply chain of high-quality and sustainable batteries in Europe.”

Volvo Cars will reveal more details on its future technology roadmap at the Volvo Cars Tech Moment, to be held on June 30.

The partnership and joint venture are subject to final negotiation and agreements between the parties, including board approval.

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About the Author

Automotive journalist. Professional work on dsf.my and automacha.com. Personal writing found at driveeveryday.me. Instagram: @driveeveryday



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