Here’s How Volvo Will Expand Battery Cell Capacity

Volvo said it is planning to establish a joint venture with leading Swedish battery company Northvolt to develop and produce more sustainable batteries to power next-gen pure-electric Volvo and Polestar models. Volvo indicated that as a first step for the 50/50 joint venture, the automaker and Northvolt are planning a research and development center in Sweden that will begin operations in 2022. Volvo said “the center is intended to build on both companies’ battery expertise 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 50 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, with production is scheduled to start in 2026. Volvo said it also plans to source 15 GWh of battery cells per year from Northvolt’s existing battery plant in Skellefteå, Sweden starting in 2024. The automaker aims to sell 50 percent pure EVs by the middle of this decade, and by 2030 it plans to sell only EVs.

Northvolt is also gearing up to supply cells to VW, BMW, and Scania.

Volvo indicated that producing batteries for its EVs represents a large part of the car’s total lifecycle carbon emissions, adding that by working with Northvolt and producing batteries near its manufacturing facilities in Europe, Volvo can reduce the environmental footprint attributable to battery sourcing and production for its future cars.

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

Volvo said the new gigafactory is planned to be powered by 100 percent clean energy and is expected to employ around 3,000 people. The plant’s location hasn’t been decided yet but did say that the XC60 is going to be the first car to use the joint-venture battery cells.

“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,” Volvo said. “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.”

Volvo plans to reveal more details on its future technology at the Volvo Cars Tech Moment scheduled for June 30.

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