Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt is experiencing a surge in interest from European companies such as Volkswagen, BMW, Scania, ABB, Siemens, Vattenfall, and Vestas. This week, Volkswagen agreed to a new joint venture with Northvolt. The German company will invest €900 million. In return, it will own a 20% stake in Northvolt and have one seat on its board of directors.
Northvolt will begin construction of a battery cell manufacturing facility near Volkswagen’s Salzgitter factory in Lower Saxony beginning next year. The German state is a major stockholder in Volkswagen. The start of production is slated for late 2023 or early 2024. The Salzgitter factory is expected to crank out 16 GWh of batteries in the first year and expand that to 24 GWh in the following years, according to Northvolt.
“With Northvolt, we have found a European partner whose know-how and sustainable, CO2 optimized battery cell production processes will enable us to advance cell production here in Germany,” says Stefan Sommer, member of the VW Board of Management responsible for procurement. “The prerequisite for this is, of course, the creation of the political framework.” European regulators must approve the Volkswagen seat on the Northvolt board.
European carmakers are concerned about being captives of Asian battery producers, which explains Volkswagen’s interest in Northvolt, but the Swedish company will only be able to meet a small portion of VW’s battery demand. If VW builds all of the electric cars it says it intends to build, it will need about 150 GWh of batteries a year, Electrive notes. Those Asian companies will still get plenty of business from the Wolfsburg concern.
Northvolt recently completed a $1 billion funding round for the construction of its planned cell factory in Skellefteå, Sweden. Construction is expected to begin in August and the Swedish factory will have an annual capacity of 32 MWh when completed. The capital injection came from Volkswagen and others, including Goldman Sachs, BMW, Swedish pension fund AMF, Folksam Group, and the IMAS Foundation.
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