Europe managed to become the second largest market for electric vehicles after China, ahead of the United States, but without the localization of production it is impossible to achieve acceptable prices, and this process itself is associated with the organization of the production of batteries in close proximity to assembly lines. Northvolt has recently begun shipping its first commercial batteries to customers.
In Europe, enterprises of South Korean companies producing lithium batteries have long been present, and Chinese companies under the CATL brand will soon begin to operate, but there have not yet been “originally European” companies in this segment. Thus, as explained Automotive News Europe, the Swedish company Northvolt became the first European supplier of locally produced lithium batteries for customers in the region. The first batches of traction batteries were shipped to customers last week, although Korean media reports that the yield level at the Northvolt plant is not so high yet, and the processing equipment needs to be urgently replaced with more reliable ones.
This does not prevent the Swedish company from claiming that the supply of serial batteries has begun in accordance with the previously scheduled schedule. Now the company employs about a thousand people, but the staff increases by an average of 150 people per month, and therefore, in the end, it can reach not 3,000, but all 4,000 employees. Northvolt has already secured a $50 billion order book from electric vehicle companies BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo and its subsidiary Polestar.
In Norway, a joint venture between Northvolt and Hydro began at the same time to recycle end-of-life traction batteries. It has become the largest in Europe and will make it possible to recycle 25,000 traction batteries annually. Appropriate processes make it possible to recover for recycling a significant part of the raw materials, which, at the current growth rate for electric vehicles, will constantly rise in price and remain in short supply. According to the forecasts of one of the founders of Tesla, Jeffrey Brian Strobel (JB Straubel), over time, the electric vehicle industry will be able to fully meet its needs in raw materials for traction batteries precisely through the recycling of already used batteries. True, with an average service life of 15 years, you will have to be patient before such forecasts begin to materialize.
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