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[NEWS] Volvo appoints former Tesla executive to lead battery production

Volvo appoints former Tesla executive to lead battery production

95 volvo c40 recharge 2021 official images static rear end
Volvo is ramping up its electrification plans with new models and partnerships

Joint venture's new R&D facility to open ahead of EV battery factory construction in 2023

Volvo has appointed former Tesla executive Adrian Clarke to drive forward its battery cell production company, as part of the firm’s joint venture with Northvolt.  

Clarke and Volvo will work with battery development partner Northvolt to open a new dedicated battery factory and a research and development centre in Gothenburg. 

The research and development centre will be the first step in a £2.5 billion strategy to build batteries for future Volvo EVs. Volvo said the new site will create "a few hundred jobs" and makes Volvo "one of the few automotive brands to make battery cell development and production part of its end-to-end engineering capabilities".

The two firms have now signed a binding agreement to create a joint venture for the development and production of EV batteries, having announced plans for a partnership earlier this year. 

Work on a dedicated battery factory will begin in 2023 and start operating at full capacity (50GWh per year) in 2026, eventually employing 3000 people. The power units will be used in "the next generation of pure-electric Volvo and Polestar cars", beginning with the successor to today's XC60, which Volvo has now confirmed will be fully electric.

“Our new battery plant will support our ambition to have a fully climate-neutral manufacturing network and secure a supply of high-quality batteries for years to come,” said Javier Varela, Head of Engineering and Operations at Volvo Cars. 

“Through our partnership with Northvolt, we will also benefit greatly from an end-to-end battery value chain, from raw material to complete car, ensuring optimal integration in our cars,” Varela said. 

Volvo plans to initially source 15GWh of batteries per year from Northvolt's existing Skellefteå facility from 2024 (when the XC60 EV is expected to be launched) before the new dedicated 'gigafactory' facility goes into service.

Volvo aims for 50% of its global sales to be pure-electric cars by the middle of this decade and will ditch combustion completely from 2030. Polestar, its all-EV sibling brand, plans to build "a truly climate-neutral vehicle" by 2030. 

Northvolt's "sustainable battery production" methods will help to reduce the environmental impact of ramping up EV production, the firm claims. 

“Establishing this gigafactory in Gothenburg is a decisive move, both to continue to transform one of the most dynamic automotive regions in the world, and to become the leading global supplier of sustainable batteries,” said Peter Carlsson, CEO of Northvolt.

The joint venture with Volvo will be Northvolt's third with a mainstream passenger car brand. In 2019, Volkswagen took a 20% share in the Stockholm-based firm to build a gigafactory in Germany that is set to begin operations by early 2024, and in 2020, BMW agreed a battery supply deal with Northvolt worth €2bn (£1.72bn).

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