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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Former Tesla executive aims to take on Musk's 'Gigafactory'

Peter Carlsson's NorthVolt planning to close its first major fundraising round this autumn

NorthVolt aims to take Tesla on in the electric car battery arena. Tyrone Siu / Reuters
NorthVolt aims to take Tesla on in the electric car battery arena. Tyrone Siu / Reuters

NorthVolt, the Swedish battery factory developer founded by a former Tesla executive, is planning to close its first major fundraising round this autumn, potentially drawing in €100 million (Dh434.1m).

It is a “partnership round” where the company is tapping its potential customers, such as car makers, energy storage firms and industrial concerns, according to the chief executive Peter Carlsson. NorthVolt has previously raised about US$14m. Its investors include Sweden’s largest utility Vattenfall, which contributed $610,000.

“Coming out of this partnership round and going into a larger financing round next, we see that it will look favourable to the financial market that we have a number of customers that have already shown commitment by investing in us,” Mr Carlsson said.

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NorthVolt is aiming to build a 32 gigawatt-hour factory that’s expected to cost €4 billion. This would rival Tesla’s Gigafactory in size, if they can pull it off. It is expected to be fully operational in about six years. The company plans to break ground on the first phase of its factory in the second half of 2018 and begin a pre-production line a year later. Mr Carlsson is anticipating to deliver his first battery cells in late 2020.

NorthVolt has narrowed its search for a site for its project down to two in Sweden. It will choose between Vasteras near Stockholm and Skelleftea in the north, Mr Carlsson said.

The next round will aim to raise €1.2bn to €1.4bn, which NorthVolt would need to fund the first phase. It is planning to build a facility with a production of 8 gigawatt-hours per year, or about 400 million battery cells.

When the whole site is up and running, Mr Carlsson expects to use “6 million metres of anode and cathode material,” which are two of the key ingredients in lithium-ion batteries, “per day, we could dress the Equator with an anode-cathode layer every week, give or take”.

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