By all accounts, Tesla’s battery tech is superior to anything currently available to the legacy automakers. So, if you can’t beat ‘em, what do you do? You join ‘em—or poach some of their battery talent to lead your own efforts.
Battery developer Northvolt was founded in 2017 by two Tesla alums who were involved in establishing Tesla’s Gigafactory Nevada. The startup has formed partnerships with several automakers, including Volkswagen, BMW and Volvo. In December, Northvolt started battery cell production at its Northvolt Ett gigafactory in northern Sweden.
Now, Volvo and Northvolt have confirmed plans to build a new gigafactory in Gothenburg, near Volvo’s largest auto factory. Construction will start in 2023. The new manufacturing plant will produce “state-of-the-art battery cells, specifically developed for use in next-generation Volvo and Polestar EVs.” Annual capacity will be up to 50 GWh—enough to equip 500,000 EVs.
“Volvo Cars and Northvolt have selected Gothenburg, Sweden to establish a new battery manufacturing plant which will commence operations in 2025, create up to 3,000 jobs, and complement the planned R&D center that both companies announced in December as part of an investment of approximately SEK 30 billion,” the companies announced.
“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.”
“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 Peter Carlsson, co-founder and CEO of Northvolt.
“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.”
Volvo and Northvolt have appointed former Tesla executive Adrian Clarke to lead the battery production venture. Clarke was the design lead for Tesla’s Gigafactory Nevada, where he worked with Northvolt founders Peter Carlsson and Paolo Cerruti. More recently, Clarke oversaw the development of Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin.
The two companies are “actively recruiting highly skilled engineers and team leaders to advance the project. Large-scale recruitment of operators and technicians will begin in late 2023.”