The plug-in electric vehicle battery manufacturing startup Northvolt has now begun construction work on its “Northvolt Labs” facility in Västerås (Sweden), according to the company.
The new research and development facility — when it’s finished in 2019 (by current plans) — will be used as a development and testing site for the company’s lithium-ion battery cells and manufacturing practices. In other words, the facility will be used by the company as a small-scale test case for its large-scale electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing plans.
The facility will be host to so-called “process representative manufacturing” work, whereby the specifics of future manufacturing practices can be ironed out (despite the large-scale manufacturing facility not yet being built). This will reportedly allow for the faster transition of “unique formulations, cell formats, and technology” to a market-ready state.
A press release on the matter (h/t Green Car Congress) provides more: “At Northvolt Labs, Northvolt will be able to fully validate product and process development, from active material for finished cell, for multiple form factors. Capacity is planned to be 125 MWh/year. The facility will be built in Västerås, outside of Stockholm, Sweden. Västerås is home to several multinational companies with world-class engineering and R&D competence in electrification and process optimization.
“With support from the EIB and InnovFin — EU Finance for Innovators Energy Demonstration Projects facility, the Swedish Energy Agency, and industrial partners, the establishment of Northvolt Labs is a key step towards the launch of Northvolt’s large-scale battery cell factory, with ultimate planned capacity of 32 GWh by 2023. It also marks the first step towards the creation of a European value chain for large-scale battery cell manufacturing.”
Commenting on the news, the CEO and co-founder of Northvolt, Peter Carlsson, stated: “Northvolt is now entering the next phase, going from a planning to a physical phase. With a number of key partners and customers onboard, and with major progress made within cell, product and process development, we are now ready to take the next step.”
This news follows on our earlier coverage of Northvolt where we revealed that the company has now solidified partnerships with prominent firms such as ABB, Scania, and Vestas. Perhaps more notably, though, Northvolt has possibly locked up tentative lithium hydroxide supply contracts with Nemaska Lithium.
Current plans call for a funding round later this year to support the development of the planned large-scale manufacturing facility — with it being something of an open question how easily Northvolt will be able to acquire the needed investors.
Without further funding, the Northvolt plans for large-scale EV battery manufacturing would be a washout … but, presumably, support will be forthcoming due to the desire by some in Europe to keep some EV battery manufacturing on the continent rather than to rely solely on imported batteries. Also, recall that Carlsson was Tesla’s VP of Supply Chain for 4 years — that should help to bring in some investment.
As a bit of an informal poll here, how likely do those reading this think it is that Northvolt’s plans for large-scale EV battery manufacturing in Europe pan out? 100% likely? 50% likely? 25% likely?
We will try to soon get an interview — perhaps an #Electrifying webinar — with a Northvolt exec to dive deeper into the company’s efforts and ideas.
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