Briefing - VW ups its battery game with Northvolt - Just Auto
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Briefing – VW ups its battery game with Northvolt

15 Jun 2021 (Last Updated June 17th, 2021 17:20)

Northvolt’s ambitious European battery production plans accelerate with new investment.

Briefing – VW ups its battery game with Northvolt

Swedish lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cell manufacturer Northvolt has announced an expansion to its existing business strategy in Europe. The company is gearing up to become one of the main manufacturers of battery cells in the continent and already has two large-scale production projects in the pipeline.

Last week, Northvolt announced that it had secured a $2.75 billion investment round. The round included cash from investment funds 4 to 1 Investments and OMERS, along with money provided by existing investors Goldman Sachs and Volkswagen. The German auto giant, in particular, is understood to have provided a further $620 million in this investment round, which stands on top of the roughly $1.1 billion it has already invested in the battery company.

The money will be used to expand Northvolt’s planned capacity at its primary battery production facility in Skelleftea, Sweden. This factory was expected to begin producing cells later in 2021 with a plan to eventually ramp up production to around 40GWh per year. However, following the new investment, capacity at the plant is now expected to reach as high as 60GWh – enough for around one million battery electric vehicles (BEVs) assuming they use an average 60kWh battery pack. Volkswagen claims that up to 40GWh of this capacity is intended for its own models, with the remainder going to other European automakers such as Volvo.

Northvolt’s expanded Swedish factory is one of two confirmed gigafactories that will supply Volkswagen with cells for its upcoming BEV models. The second facility is due to start production in 2025 and will be based in Salzgitter, Germany. Initially, this was going to be a 50-50 joint venture between the two but Volkswagen opted to buy out Northvolt’s ownership of the facility before it begins operations. Early plans would have seen this facility expand to 16GWh per year of capacity but, with VW’s BEV plans in ascendence, this has now been pushed to a planned 40GWh of capacity – enough for around 660,000 vehicles per year assuming each uses an average 60kWh battery pack.

Volkswagen has confirmed that it expects to commission a total of six gigafactories in Europe by 2030 to support its battery electric vehicle production ambitions. While the two announced so far have been planned in cooperation with Northvolt, Volkswagen has already established supply relationships with SK Innovation and LG Energy Solution – both of which have announced ambitions of moving into the European market – so it’s possible that the remaining four facilities could come in cooperation with one of those companies.

Northvolt has now secured a total of $6.5 billion of investment and has increased its planned total battery capacity to 150GWh by 2030. Considering 100GWh is accounted for across the two announced factories, that still leaves another 50GWh of planned production so far unaccounted for, suggesting Northvolt is likely to announce at least one more large-scale European battery factory before that date. The company has secured $27 billion of confirmed battery orders at this point, with slightly more than half ($14 billion) coming from the Volkswagen Group.

In the below table, we provide a breakdown of major lithium-ion factory projects in Europe tracked by GlobalData’s project database, including completed and proposed facilities.

 

NameLocationStatusCompletion CapacityNotes
Northvolt – NorthvoltLab and Battery PlantSkelleftea SwedenUnder construction2021 Q4Up to 60GW/h.A proposed plant with a planned 60GWh production capacity along with R&D facilities.
LG Chem – Wroclaw Electric Vehicle Battery PlantWroclaw PolandUnder construction2022 Q4Currently around 15GWh but investment could boost this to 65GWh.LG Chem claims that this factory will be the largest EV battery factory in Europe with capacity for 30,000 battery packs per month.
CATL – Erfurt lithium-Ion Battery PlantThuringia GermanyUnder construction2022 Q2Initial production will reach 14GWh with the option to expand to 24GWh.A proposed 110,000m2 factory and distribution center from China's CATL to produce Li-ion batteries close to its European customers.
SK Innovation – Komarom Lithium Battery Plant IIKomarom HungaryUnder construction2022 Q1Intended to add 9.8GWh of capacity to SKI’s existing 7.5GWh.A second battery facility to increase output beyond SKI's existing Komarom factory.
SK Innovation – Lithium-Ion Battery Separator PlantSilesian Voivodeship PolandUnder construction2021 Q3Roughly 340m m2 of lithium-ion battery separators and 130m m2 of ceramic coated separators.A supporting plant for SKI's operations in the region that specializes in manufacturing Li-ion battery separators.
Umicore – Nysa Cathode Material PlantOpole Voivodeship PolandUnder construction2020 Q4Not yet revealed.A facility to specifically manufacture cathode components from mining giant Umicore.
Britishvolt/AMTE – Bro Tathan Battery Cell PlantVale of GlamorganPlanning2027 Q4Up to 30GWh.A growing facility in Wales that will scale up as battery demand increases. Capacity could hit 30GWh by 2027.
VW/Northvolt – Salzgitter Battery PlantSalzgitterPlanning2025 Q1Up to 40GWh.Initially a joint project between VW and Northvolt. The former eventually bought out Northvolt’s share of the project. Capacity plan now as high as 40GWh.
Stellantis/Total – EV Lithium-Ion Battery Pilot PlantNouvelle-AquitainePlanning2021 Q3Pilot production line within an existing Saft plant.A joint venture between PSA and Saft, a Total affiliate, to enhance Li-ion production in France.
Stellantis/TotalDouvrin FrancePlanning2023 Q4Between Douvrin and Kaiserslautern, Stellantis expects around 50GWh.Another joint venture between Stellantis and Total. Stellantis is likely to be the main customer, but it is seeking contracts from other OEMs.
StellantisKaiserslauternPlanning2025 Q4Between Douvrin and Kaiserslautern, Stellantis expects around 50GWh.Originally an Opel site. This facility was due to open in 2024 but this has since been pushed back to the end of 2025.
StellantisRomeIn discussionLikely after 2025No figure yet but likely to be more than 10GWhReported discussions between Stellantis and Rome suggest the OEM may receive subsidies to open an Italian battery cell manufacturing plant.
Toray – Nyergesújfalu Lithium-Ion Battery Separator PlantKomarom HungaryPlanning2022 Q1Approximately 200m m2 of battery separator film.A plant specifically designed to produce battery separator films, increasing Toray's overall separator capacity by 20%.
SK Innovation – Komarom EV Battery PlantKomarom HungaryCompleted2020 Q1Around 7.5GWhA facility for European customers including Daimler with capacity of up to 7.5GWh per year.
Daimler – Kamenz Lithium-Ion Battery Factory IIKamenz GermanyCompleted2018 Q4No GWh figure given but, between this and the Deutsche ACCUmotive plant, Daimler expects to supply 500,000 EVs per year.A second facility to supply battery cells to Daimler, includes a logistics department.
Deutsche ACCUmotive – Kamenz Lithium-Ion Battery PlantKamenz GermanyCompleted2018 Q2As above. With the second Kamenz plant, it can produce up to 500,000 packs per year.A 40,000m2 manufacturing facility primarily intended to supply Daimler with Li-ion cells for its EV models.
Robert Bosch – Eisenach Lithium-ion Batteries FacilityThuringia GermanyCompleted2013 Q4No GWh figure given. Likely smaller than others covered here due to focus on 48V battery systems.A Bosch facility producing electrical components including 48V batteries for plug-in and mild hybrid vehicles.
Bollore – Penn Carn Battery PlantBretagne FranceCompleted2012 Q2Up to 1.5GWh currently.Between Bollore's Penn Carn and Canadian battery facility, it has up to 1.5GWh of Li-ion production capacity, as of 2019.
Tesla – Berlin GigafactoryBerlinUnder construction2022 Q2Around 100GWh with option to increase if needed.Tesla will build cells in Germany along with opening a vehicle production operation in the country. The line is planned for around 100GWh of annual capacity but CEO Musk has suggested it could grow to 250GWh if needed.