Sep 15, 2020 (IAM Newswire via COMTEX) -- Although Europe does not have a truck challenger to Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +2.05% yet, it has many other contenders when it comes to batteries and the overall charging technology. Europe is also on the track to develop breakthrough technologies that will greatly benefit the growing EV infrastructure. One such field is the charging speed. Charging an electric car can take up to several hours with even Tesla Supercharger station needing at least 30 minutes. Therefore, reducing charging times as close as to a few minutes that it takes to refuel an internal combustion engine with petrol is crucial for a wider adoption of EVs.
Einride's trucks are being built for the logistics industry. Although this Sweden-based company was initially focused on developing remotely-controlled self-driving trucks that would transport goods, it has recently acknowledged that creating a fully autonomous vehicle may take some time. Therefore, it is now building electric trucks for human drivers as well. The company recently signed a deal with Lidl. By supplying these trucks to the German supermarket group, it will support Lidl's goal to achieve a zero-footprint supply chain. Such deals can greatly speed up the EV revolution. The trend of electric fleets is also seen through Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +0.32% 's recent orders that include 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian and 1,800 from Mercedes Benz.
This is another Swedish company that recently launched a purpose-built 16-tonne electric truck that can drive up to 200 km on a single charge. The company is expecting to sell 500 of the Volta Zero trucks in 2022, with volumes expected to multiply 10x by 2025. The company is hoping for strong demand as European cities such as London and Paris are supporting eco-friendly vehicles and proposing to ban diesel ones from city centers.
Not surprisingly, one of Europe's biggest battery startups was founded by ex-Tesla employees. Peter Carlsson, Tesla's global head of sourcing and supply chain, has worked closely with Elon Musk to launch the Model S. Carlsson believes that while China and the US have been leading when it comes to developing and producing the batteries for electric cars, Europe now has an opportunity to catch up. Paolo Cerruti helped Carlsson launch Northvolt, which is building a giant battery factory in northern Sweden. Once it is up and running, the plant is aiming to produce 32GWh of capacity annually which is near to Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory levels. The company received great support from investors, including Volkswagen /zigman2/quotes/204431732/delayed VWAGY -2.34% and Goldman Sachs /zigman2/quotes/209237603/composite GS -0.48% , as it gathered $1 billion last year. Northvolt is also developing efficient patent-protected recycling processes which will play a great role in creating Europe's battery supply.
France's startup unveiled ambitious plans to deliver up to 50GWh of battery production capacity. The company is currently looking for a location in France for its first Gigafactory with production scheduled to begin in 2023 with 16GWh capacity. It is backed by French industrial Schneider Electric, real estate group IDEC and the EU's European Institute of Innovation & Technology. The initial investment in the project is about EUR1.6 billion.
It is not the only ambitious battery production story in France as energy giant Total SE /zigman2/quotes/201824152/composite TOT +0.87% and carmaker Groupe PSA already joined forces to create Automotive Cells Company, which is also aiming to start deliveries in 2023. The first phase of the project involves a EUR200 million investment and a pilot plant built around an existing facility in Nersac, France, owned by Total's battery production arm called Saft.
Ulracapacitors are devices that discharge energy much faster than batteries. They are also seen as aa potential part of the EV solution. Last year, Tesla bought such a company named Maxwell Technologies for $218 million. It was a part of the strategy to improve the lithium-ion battery used in its vehicles. The goal is to decrease cost while enhancing performance and increasing lifespan. Its European challenger, Estonian Skeleton Technologies, is on track to achieve these goals with the SuperBattery it is developing. It is a ground-breaking graphene battery with a 15-second charging time along with a capability of being recharged hundreds of thousands of times.
The Estonia-based company has just partnered with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology to complete the development of this revolutionary battery. If their efforts are successful, they will remove the three main barriers to wide EV adoption: slow charging time, limited range and battery wear-and-tear.
Skeleton Technologies chief executive Taavi Madiberk claims the company's ground-breaking technology will be a game changer. He also notes that, unlike Tesla, which seeks to do everything itself, the key to energy storage breakthroughs in Europe lies in collaboration between companies.
When Tesla opened its first Gigafactory in 2016, it had a clear head start. But, the landscape has greatly altered since then. Gigafactory was described by Musk as "the machine that builds the machine", a place where everything that Tesla needs is made. The idea behind the Gigafactory was not just to reduce Tesla's reliance on overseas suppliers but also bring the cost of production down to a level at which it can compete to that of traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines. But unlike the US which saw a sharp shift in perspective when the Trump administration came to power, Europe showed significant support and action in the regulatory space. The future of EVs in Europe looks promising with this new momentum. Europe has started to flex its muscles by supporting electric vehicles along their entire supply chain. This strong dynamics leaves great space for many new developments.
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