Northvolt is digging into construction market

Sweden’s young battery powerhouse and Volkswagen partner Northvolt has made a new client in the construction business. Pon Equipment, the Caterpillar dealer for Norway and the Netherlands, orders 90 battery systems from Northvolt for electric excavators, which select customers receive this Spring.

Pon Equipment will integrate the Northvolt batteries with 150 or 300 kWh capacity into the 12-ton and 25-ton variants of the electric excavators of type Z for zero-emissions. Pon presented the all-electric diggers for the first time in 2018. The engineers worked very closely with Caterpillar to adjust the software and the excavator.

The new order suggests that demand has increased only now – or that the conversion has become more viable. Indeed, Erik Sollerud, Managing Director of Pon Equipment, confirmed the company was now at the third generation of our battery-electric excavators and was “increasing the volume significantly.”

Northvolt, in a press statement, speaks of an “initial order” of Voltpack Core lithium-ion battery systems as a technical solution to be used for the electrification of 90 Z-line excavators, so there may be follow-up orders. Again Sollerud: “Having a solution-oriented supplier like Northvolt, located close to us and most importantly having a very clear sustainability profile in their manufacturing of batteries, from raw materials to end product, is supporting our strategy.”

Emad Zand, President Systems, Northvolt, added that Northvolt was “keenly entering into a new market with its battery systems” with the new partnership. He also called the electrification of construction equipment an “important change for the industry.”

In markets like Norway, already stricter emission requirements and noise limits are being introduced. In public tenders, construction machinery running on alternative fuels, including battery-electric, has become a prerequisite, Pon suggests speaking of experience.

For the Z-line excavators powered by Northvolt cells, the partners specify a runtime of 5 – 6 hours when engaged in heavy excavation and up to 8 hours when doing lighter excavation work. The machines can also run when connected to the grid via standard CEE or else quick charge via CCS.

Northvolt was founded in Sweden and made headlines for planning what was then Europe’s first Gigafactory. The company has since won mighty industrial partners and customers such ABB, BMW Group, Scania, Siemens, Vattenfall, Vestas and the Volkswagen Group. For VW, Northvolt is to build up a battery cell production in Salzgitter as part of a network of battery factories the Group is planning.

But the heavy lifting is not all for Northvolt. The company also agreed to develop batteries for the micromobility service Tier with a view to sustainability.

Then in March, Northvolt also acquired the US startup Cuberg to commercialise longer-range Lithium-metal batteries and enter the American market as reported. Existing clients include Boeing and electric aviation startups, while Northvolt also plans an R&D centre in California.

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