Europe’s $12 billion battery start-up produces its first lithium-ion cell

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

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

Northvolt, which 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 battery plant where the yearly output is measured in gigawatt-hours (GWh). The facility, Northvolt Ett in Skelleftea, 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, co-founder and CEO 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 6 years old, Northvolt has signed more than $30 billion worth of contracts with customers including carmakers BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo and Polestar.

Tesla has a pilot plant where it is trying to make its own battery cells but it currently uses batteries from CATL, Samsung, Panasonic and LG in its energy storage systems and vehicles.

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 more than $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 also invested in the round.

Correction: This story has been updated to correctly name Skelleftea as the location of the plant and to better describe Tesla’s battery operations and usage.

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