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Europe’s first homegrown battery plant begins shipments

Europe’s first homegrown battery plant begins shipments
A Lithium-ion prismatic cell battery at the Northvolt Ett AB plant in Skelleftea, Sweden, on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. Sweden's Northvolt is leading an effort to forge a regional champion that can beat rivals from Asia.

Swedish battery-maker Northvolt AB became the first European firm to start commercial shipments to a carmaker last week, giving shape to the continent’s five-year push to counter Asian dominance in supplying energy cells for electric vehicles. 

The first deliveries, which came from Northvolt’s plant in Skelleftea, Sweden, were made on schedule, a spokesman said. The company is hiring about 150 people per month at the plant, which currently employs about 1,000 workers, he added.

While Northvolt’s launch marks a success for Europe kickstarting an independent battery industry, skyrocketing prices for raw materials including lithium and cobalt have become a concern. For years, China has fostered closer ties with mining companies in Africa and South America, potentially exposing manufacturers elsewhere to supply bottlenecks.

Northvolt, which plans to scale up production over the rest of the year, recently said it had secured more than $50 billion in contracts from electric-car manufacturers including BMW AG, Volkswagen AG, Volvo Car AB and Polestar. Wigardt said the total headcount at the Skelleftea plant will likely reach 4,000, up from a previous estimate of 3,000.

On Monday the company also said it had started commercial EV battery recyling at Hydrovolt in Fredrikstad, Norway, a joint venture with Hydro. Hydrovolt is Europe’s largest electric-vehicle battery recycling plant, with capacity to process around 25,000 batteries annually. BM

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