Tesla executive joins Volvo to lead battery production

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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 Swedish car maker’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, which will be the first step in a £2.5 billion (AUD$4.87bn) strategy to build batteries for future Volvo EVs.

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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 companies 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.

Volvo 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.

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