Europe’s Tesla battery rival produces lithium-ion cell

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Northvolt’s battery factory in the north of Sweden in June.

Northvolt

Swedish battery maker Northvolt announced Wednesday that it has produced its first lithium-ion battery cell at its factory in Skellefteå, meeting its deadline to start production at the plant before the end of 2021.

Northvolt, which competes with Tesla’s battery-making division and was valued at $12 billion by investors in June, said it’s the first battery of its kind to have been fully designed, developed and assembled at a so-called gigafactory by a homegrown European battery company.

A gigafactory can be classed as a large-scale plant where the yearly output is measured in gigawatt hours (GWh). Northvolt Ett in Skellefteå is expected to have a yearly output of 60 GWh.

The battery cell came off the production line at the gigafactory on Tuesday, Northvolt said.

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

“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.”

The majority of the world’s electric car batteries are currently made in the U.S. and Asia, but Northvolt hopes to change this.

Despite being less than six years old, Northvolt has signed over $30 billion worth of contracts with customers including carmakers BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo and Polestar.

Northvolt said commercial deliveries will begin in 2022, adding that production capacity will increase to 60 gigawatt-hours in the coming years, which is enough to supply batteries for around 1 million electric vehicles. 

The company has raised over $6.5 billion from a host of investors to help it expand its operations.

The latest funding round, Northvolt’s largest yet, was co-led by Goldman Sachs and VW alongside new investors including Swedish pension funds AP1, AP2, AP3, AP4 and Canadian pension provider OMERS. Previous investors such as Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and investment management firm Baillie Gifford are also investing in the round.

Correction: This story has been updated to correctly name Skellefteå as the location of the plant.

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