Northvolt has started producing battery cells for electric vehicles for the first time in Europe. It is expected to bring some changes in the European electric vehicle market, which has largely depended on three Korean battery companies and Panasonic from Japan.

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Northvolt announced that they have started commercial production and shipment of battery cells since last week after they started pilot production at the Skellefteå Giga Factory in northern Sweden last December on the 18th(local time). They did not mention the specific production volume nor the customer, but they emphasized that it wasthe first commercial production of batteries in Europe. Northvoltis planning to hire up to 4,000 people at their Skellefteåplant. They will increase the annual battery production up to 60GWh within one to two years. This is the amount of batteries that can produce 700,000 to 800,000 units of passenger electric vehicles annually.

Northvolt has signed battery supply contracts with finished electric vehicle makersworth more than 50 billion USD (about 61 trillion KRW). Major customers are BMW, Volkswagen Group, Volvo and Polestar. The Volkswagen Group owns about 20%of Northvolt’s share.

Northvolthas planned to operate a battery cell plant with an annual production capacity of 170 GWh in Europe by 2025. Starting with the SkellefteåFactory, Sweden's Gothenburg (50GWh) and Germany's Schleswig-HolsteinHeide plants (60GWh) will be in operation by 2025.

Northvolt started the first operation of 'Hydrovolt' earlier this month, a battery recycling plant established by a joint venture with Norwegian aluminum company 'Norsk Hydro'. Hydrovolt is planning to promote the expansion of recycling plants across Europe. Their goal is to process 500,000 used batteries per year by 2030.

An official from the battery industry said, “Unlike Korean battery companies which have battery factories in Hungary and Poland, Northvolt will operate factories in Sweden and Germany, which are advantageous for vehicle production and logistics. Since they are local company in Europe, they will be advantageous in many ways to compete with Asian battery makers.”

In Europe, other than Northvolt, Britishvolt, ACC, a battery joint venture between Saft and Stellantis, and Volkswagen Group are currently constructing large-scale battery cell production plants for electric vehicles. ACC plans to secure a plant with a capacity of 120GWh around 2025, based in France and Germany. The Volkswagen Group also plans to operate three or four gigafactories just in Europe.

By Staff Reporter Tae-jun Park (