'Only the beginning’ European Tesla battery rival unveils first lithium cell


Tesla CEO Elon Musk may be concerned to hear about news from Sweden that a European-based company has announced it has produced the first lithium-ion battery fully designed, developed and assembled at a gigafactory outside of the US and Asia.

Swedish start-up company Northvolt revealed this week it had met its target of producing the battery before the end of 2021 at the enormous plant based in Skelleftea.

Previously, all car batteries of its kind had been produced either in the US or Asia by companies like Tesla, Panasonic and LG Chem.

Although Northvolt is less than six years-old, it’s already signed deals worth more than £23billion with car manufacturers including Volskwagen, BMW and Volvo.

And the company has already raised an additional £5billion from investors as it continues to battle Californian giants Tesla.

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Peter Carlsson, co-founder and CEO of Northvolt said: “Of course, this first cell is only the beginning.

“Over the course of the coming years, we look forward to Northvolt Ett expanding its production capacity greatly to enable the European transition to clean energy.”

Northvolt said they would begin deliveries of batteries to commercial customers in 2022.

They will then aim to ramp up production to be able to supply batteries to around a million electric cars each year.


Investors are hopeful that the ability to manufacture car batteries for electric cars in Europe will bolster a market that already saw electric cars accounting for one in every five cars sold in the UK last year.

Gigafactories are plants able to produce enough batteries each year to provide about 15 gigawatt hours (GWh) of cumulative storage.

Only two large battery factories are operational in Europe, one in Poland and one in Hungary, but neither are gigafactories.

Yet there are 25 gigafactories planned for the continent by 2030, nine owned by Asian manufacturers.

Northvolt’s first lithium cell is designed to be lighter and thinner and the first unit rolled off the line on Tuesday December 28.

The company will keep the first batteries for further research and then for posterity.

A company spokesperson said: “What we did yesterday was taking a few cells through the entire cell assembly process, from start to finish, as part of the commissioning of the machinery.”

Skelleftea has a history of mining, mostly precious metals, earning it the nickname ‘Gold Town’.


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