Gigafactories: Europe Faces US and Asia as a Car Battery Power

Gigafactories: Europe Faces US and Asia as a Car Battery Power

image copyrightMADDY SAVAGEimage captionNorthvolt’s gigafactory is 125 miles south of the Arctic Circle Surrounded by a forest of tall green pine trees, 125 miles south of the Arctic circle, a giant electric battery factory is rapidly taking shape on a site as big as 71 football pitches.

By Maddy SavageBBC News, Stockholm Published7 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingRelated Topics The project will be a gigafactory, a term coined by Tesla founder Elon Musk to describe his first high-volume plant for producing lithium-ion electric battery cells, deep in the Nevada desert.

Startup Northvolt, co-founded by two former Tesla executives, is in Skellefteå, a much chillier location, in northern Sweden. But from here, as well as a base in Västerås just outside Stockholm, it is hoping to provide a quarter of Europe’s electric batteries, as demand for electric vehicles surges amidst the global race to cut carbon emissions.

By 2030, 40% of all new cars sold will be electric according to the latest forecast by the investment bank UBS, rising to almost 100% of the new car market by 2040. “If you look at the agenda for all the automotive manufacturers to actually make those electric cars, the amount of cells that you’ll need to access, is going to be humongous,” says the plant’s manager Fredrik Hedlund. image copyrightMaddy Savageimage captionNorthvolt plant manager Fredrik Hedlund

Although many of the imposing grey buildings are yet to have much equipment installed, Mr Hedlund is confident everything will be in place in time for production to start by the end of 2021. Northvolt aims to make enough batteries to power almost 300,000 electric vehicles a year. It’s already received a $14bn order from Volkswagen to produce its batteries for the next decade, and has plans for a long-term partnership with Swedish truck and bus maker Scania. It recently announced that it had raised another $2.75bn (£1.94bn; €2.26bn) to fund its expansion.

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