Northvolt wants to build battery plant in Quebec
The Swedish battery cell manufacturer Northvolt and its subsidiary Cuberg are planning a factory in Canada, according to a media report. Many details are not yet known, but the companies have apparently already shortlisted two concrete locations.
As Electric Autonomy Canada reports with reference to documents from lobbyists, Saint-Basile-Le-Grand and McMasterville in Quebec are being discussed as preferred locations. There is no further information on the targeted production capacity and the timetable.
It is possible that Northvolt will give preference to a production site in North America over the factory in Germany because of the subsidies available there. “The factory in Heide could be delayed,” Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson had warned in October 2022. “With current electricity prices, we see the economic viability of energy-intensive projects in Germany at risk.” He added: “We want to continue to be a European champion and market leader. But we are now at a point where we may prioritise expansion in the US over Europe for the time being.”
Nicolas Steinbacher, Head of Strategy & Programme at Northvolt Germany, made similar comments at our German-language online conference electrive.net LIVE at the end of March. Steinbacher did mention the “good talks” with politicians around the plant in Heide. “Renewable energies are directly related to sustainable battery production. The location of a Gigafactory is based on the availability of renewable energy,” Steinbacher said – a rationale Northvolt once used to choose the German site in Heide. “We need to get an industrial electricity price going in Europe to be able to produce at competitive prices here in Germany. If we miss the window now, money flows will be diverted – away from Europe.”
As it stands now, Northvolt is looking at Canada for a site for a North American factory. “Northvolt is exploring the opportunity to build and operate battery production in North America (design, development and production of batteries), and is therefore in dialogue with the federal Government,” the report quotes from the entry in the Canadian federal lobby register. Electric Autonomy Canada writes that it has checked the lobby registers of all Canadian provinces and found links to Northvolt only in Quebec. In Canada, all lobbying efforts – even initial preliminary talks on the construction of a factory, including possible subsidy packages – must be registered. For example, VW CEO Oliver Blume is also registered as a lobbyist in Canada.
The two locations mentioned in the article are about a 30-minute drive east of Montreal. According to Electric Autonomy Canada, there are no EV supply chain companies in this region yet. There is already a battery centre of sorts in the province of Quebec: In the Bécancour Industrial Park, about two hours northeast of Montreal, both GM and Posco are building a cathode material factory, as is BASF. The Canadian graphite producer Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) processes graphite grown in Bécancour in Québec into anode material suitable for batteries. And mining group Vale is planning nickel processing in Bécancour. Vale Canada is also another Northvolt connection: Last year, Northvolt signed a multi-year agreement with the mining company to supply nickel products.
Northvolt has not yet responded to a request for comment from the portal, but the office of Canada’s industry minister has – albeit only with a general statement. “Minister Champagne has worked tirelessly to secure the future of Canada’s auto industry, including bringing more companies to Canada and the entire electric vehicle ecosystem,” a ministry spokesperson said. “It is good to see that our government’s investments are attracting the attention of automakers and companies from around the world. We will continue to do everything to ensure that Canadians can benefit from the global transition to electric vehicles.”
In April, the Volkswagen Group announced a 90 GWh battery factory in Canada, albeit located in the province of Ontario.