Electric cars have now become a certainty inEurope: in some countries, such as Norway, they are the means of transport par excellence, in other nations they are beginning to take hold at increasingly sustained growth rates.
Until now, however, one piece was missing to make the market of our continent really competitive: an important battery production line. This scenario would seem to be part of the past: a few days ago, in fact, Northvolt,a Swedish startup, produced its first lithium-ion battery cell at a plant in northern Sweden.
It is the first in a series of new factories that investors hope will allow Europe to carve out a large slice of the electric vehicle market and weaken the stranglehold created by manufacturers in China, Japan andKorea.
The Northvolt site will be the first European-owned plant to produce on a so-called gigafactoryscale. Gigafactories are generally considered to be those capable of producing enough batteries each year to provide about 15 gigawatt hours (GWh) of cumulative storage.
According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (BMI), a reporting agency,only two large battery factories are operational in Europe today:a factory in Wrocław, Poland, run by Korea’s LG, and another owned by Korea’s Samsung,near Budapest,Hungary.
According to the agency, by 2030 there will be 25 gigafactories built in Europe,which will have to keep up with the surge in demand for electric cars. Despite its startup status, Northvolt has won financial support from Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, and investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Northvolt hopes to rapidly expand production at the Skellefteåplantin northern Sweden to produce 60 GWhperyear, enough to provide batteries for one million electric cars. Commercial deliveries will begin in the new year.
The startup already boasts contracts worth $30 billion with large European companies including automakers BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar,truck manufacturer Scania and energy storage company Fluence. Automakers are belatedly ramping up production of electric vehicles to meet more stringent emissions targets, as well as the challenge of their U.S. rival, Tesla, which built its own battery and automobile plant in Berlin.
Peter Carlsson, chief executive and co-founder of Northvolt,said the production of the lithium-ion battery on Tuesday represented “a great milestone.” “Of course, this first cell is just the beginning,” he said. “Over the next few years, we look forward to Northvolt Ett significantly expanding its production capacity to enable Europe’s clean energy transition.”
And in Italy? With so many rumors chasing each other, still no tape has been cut in 2021, but probably next year will be the right one.