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ELECTRIC CARS

Norwegian firms join Panasonic to develop European ‘green battery’ business

Japan's Panasonic said Wednesday it has signed a partnership with two Norwegian firms to develop a "green battery" business targeting the European market, including for electric cars.

Norwegian firms join Panasonic to develop European 'green battery' business
Illustration photo. AFP

Panasonic, energy firm Equinor, and industrial group Hydro, said they would work together “towards summer 2021 to assess the market for lithium-ion batteries in Europe and… the business case for a green battery business located in Norway”.

The initial phase of the project will involve consulting potential customers and holding talks with Norwegian and European authorities, the companies said in a joint statement.

Panasonic is already a leading lithium-ion producer and has a major joint factory in the US state of Nevada with electric carmaker Tesla.

The Japanese firm's executive vice president Mototsugu Sato said the partnership would “potentially pave way for a robust and sustainable battery business in Norway.”

“We expect battery production to grow rapidly as a solution to the world's number one challenge, climate change,” added Arvid Moss, executive vice president of energy and corporate development at Hydro.

“We believe the combined strengths of Panasonic, Equinor and Hydro represent an attractive starting point for exploring the possibilities for a profitable and sustainable battery business in Norway, where we have a strong foothold, renewable power base and close proximity to the European market.”

Batteries make up about 40 percent of the value of an electric car, and the market is growing fast in Europe as consumers look for greener alternatives to petrol and diesel.

China currently controls two-thirds of worldwide cell manufacturing. 

But the EU hopes to increase its share from the current three percent to 25 percent by 2028. 

Last year the bloc approved 3.2 billion euros of state subsidies from France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Belgium and Poland to stimulate a European battery industry and meet homegrown demand.

READ ALSO: Danish minister slams Norway's 'expensive' electric car subsidy

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ELECTRIC CARS

Norway reaches 50 percent electric in 2020 new car sales

Norway became the first country in the world where electric cars accounted for more than 50 percent of new registrations in 2020, according to figures published Tuesday by an industry group.

Norway reaches 50 percent electric in 2020 new car sales
Photo: AFP

According to Opplysningsradet for Veitrafikken (OFV, “Information Council for Road Traffic”), electric vehicles accounted for 54.3 percent of the new car market last year, up from 42.4 percent a year earlier.

The four best-selling models in the Nordic country were the Audi e-tron, the Tesla Model 3, the Volkswagen ID.3 and the Nissan Leaf — all fully electric.

The fifth placed car — the Volkswagen Golf — can be bought in a rechargeable version but the statistics do not differentiate the engine types.

In December, electric car sales set a monthly record in Norway with 66.7 percent, with the numbers boosted by the arrival of new models, OFV said.

Industry group Norsk elbilforening (Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association) said separately to AFP that Norway was the first country to break the overall 50 percent threshold.

Norway, the largest producer of oil in Western Europe, is making headway in electric mobility thanks to heavy subsidies.

The Nordic country, where electricity is primarily produced from hydroelectric dams, aims to have all new cars being “zero emission” by 2025.

READ ALSO: Ten things in Norway that are actually quite cheap 

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