Forbes: Volkswagen Battery Partner Northvolt Snaps Up Cuberg And Aims For 1000Wh/l

March 10, 2021 | Press

This article orignally appeared in Forbes.

Michael Taylor – The Volkswagen Group is chasing unprecedented electric-vehicle (EV) energy density and range by 2025 after its Swedish battery cell partner snapped up the US cell research company, Cuberg, today.

Northvolt, which is 20% owed by the Volkswagen Group, announced today that it had nabbed the Stanford University battery cell spinoff to help it reach its mass-production target of 1000Wh/liter of energy density by 2025.

It already claims a 70% improvement over lithium-ion batteries in aviation applications.

The acquisition means Northvolt, which also supplies its cells to BMW, Scania, ABB, Siemens, Vattenfall and Vestas, now has a new research center in Silicon Valley as well as Sweden on its way to heavy- and medium-truck cell supply, as well as automotive use.

Northvolt insisted Cuberg’s technology would rapidly boost energy density and could be scaled up because it can be manufactured within existing lithium-ion production systems.

“The Cuberg team has shown exceptional ability to develop world-class technology, proven results and an outstanding customer base in a lean and efficient organization,” Northvolt founder and CEO Peter Carlsson said.

“Combining these strengths with the capabilities and technology of Northvolt allows us to make significant improvements in both performance and safety while driving down cost even further for next-generation battery cells.

“This is critical for accelerating the shift to fully electric vehicles and responding to the needs of the leading automotive companies within a relevant time frame.”

Cuberg was spun out from Stanford in 2015 to commercialize its cell breakthroughs, which use a revolutionary liquid electrolyte with a lithium-metal anode.

It’s not the only possible path to long-range batteries for the Volkswagen Group, though, because it owns a big chunk of another US university spin-off, Quantumscape, and aims to leverage its technology in production cars to “approach” 1000Wh/liter by 2024.

It is believed by Volkswagen insiders that the first production car to benefit from the Quantumscape solid-state technology will be the Trinity Project cars, including the Audi Artemis project and the Volkswagen “Trinity”.

Cuberg already has Boeing, Ampaire and VoltAero as customers, and it is also financially backed by Boeing, the California Energy Commission, the US Department of Energy and the TomKat Center at Stanford.

“We are very excited to join forces with Northvolt to build the future of clean energy together,” Cuberg Co-Founder and CEO Richard Wang said.

"Northvolt brings incredible technology and manufacturing capabilities that will accelerate the commercialization and adoption of our lithium metal technology. Their deep engineering experience and bold spirit perfectly complement Cuberg’s own culture of rapid innovation.”

Northvolt itself is backed by Goldman Sachs as well as Volkswagen, and aims to produce the cleanest, most environmentally friendly battery cells on the planet from its gigafactories in Sweden and Germany.

Carlsson had a stint as Tesla’s Chief Purchasing Officer, working closely with Elon Musk in battery development, then he went on to found Northvolt, whose mission statement is to have a “minimal carbon footprint and the highest ambitions for recycling to enable the European transition to renewable energy.”