Northvolt has selected the northern German city of Heide in the state of Schleswig-Holstein for a new 60 GWh plant. “Northvolt Drei” will be the company’s third production facility of this size and the first outside Sweden. It will cost some € 4 billion. The new gigafactory increases Northvolt’s pipeline of battery manufacturing capacity under development to over 170 GWh.
“In Heide, we really found a spot where we could combine all (our) requirements: attracting talent and feeling the support for our aspiration of building the world’s greenest batteries,” said Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson at the press conference, officially announcing the decision. “With the energy mix in Schleswig-Holstein, with the offshore wind coming in, but also with the linkage to Denmark and Norway in the energy feed, we saw that this is probably the best spot for us in Germany to build this set-up.”
Northvolt said its decision in favor of Heide had also been influenced by its proximity to the metropolis of Hamburg and the availability of “the space required to establish a battery plant of sufficient size to leverage the economies of scale in production.”
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At the same time, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess is planning another battery cell factory in Europe – the company’s fourth one. While the exact location is not yet determined, reports are circulation that the planned site will be in Eastern Europe. Besides being a minority shareholder of Northvolt, Volkswagen is planning with a total of six battery cell factories, reports trade publication Automobilwoche. Together with related facilities for recycling and R&D, the construction of VW’s production network will probably require around €30 billion.
According to business newspaper Handelsblatt, Germany is by far and away Europe’s leading EV battery production location with 485 gigawatt hours of capacity in existing and planned facilities, Other major companies that have recently built or planned facilities in Germany include CATL, SVOLT, PSA Group and Tesla.
But also abroad, battery production is picking up. Mercedes-Benz announced that it has opened a battery plant in Bibb County, Alabama, to produce batteries for the EQS and other models in the U.S. There, high-performance lithium-ion batteries are assembled into a complete system on an approximately 300 m long production line with more than 70 workstations. The individual components are assembled in a digitalised production process, including up to 12 cell modules and the so-called EE compartment for the integration of the power electronics.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the battery system features state-of-the-art cell chemistry with nickel, cobalt and manganese in an 8:1:1 ratio. The MB technologists and production designers want to take sustainability aspects into account through a CO2-neutral manufacturing process and a cobalt content reduced to around 10%.
The location underscores the importance of the U.S. within the MB production network. In nearbyTuscaloosa, Alabama, Daimler plans to assemble the EQS SUV models and the EQE. MB is thus preparing to ramp up production on 3 continents.