Ghent misses out on Volvo’s giga-factory for batteries
The die is cast: car manufacturer Volvo is not going to build a gigantic battery plant in Flanders. That is what Volvo’s international headquarters have confirmed. The reason for the decision is unclear, though. The company did not reveal where the ultimate production unit will be built. Only two Swedish sites remain on the shortlist.
Earlier, Volvo announced that it will only build fully electric cars as of 2030. It will already increase the part of electrically-powered passenger cars by half by 2025; the other half will be hybrid vehicles. Both vehicle types need batteries.
Like many other car manufacturers, Volvo wants to be less dependent on (primarily Asian) battery producers. That is also why the company signed a joint venture with Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt beginning this year. Volvo already assembles the battery pack for its first full-electric models in Ghent.
The planned joint battery factory was intended to produce batteries for about 400 000 electric cars a year, and provide production plants worldwide. The giga-factory would have generated about 3 000 new jobs in Flanders.
The Flemish region had arrived in the top three possible locations. Flanders was a likely candidate, as was Göteborg (Sweden) and another site in Sweden. In the meantime, we know that our country has been removed from the shortlist.
Volvo used three crucial selection criteria: the availability of green energy, the price of this energy, and the presence of sufficient workers. The latter favored Flanders; green energy, on the other hand, could have been a dealbreaker, since Volvo intends to operate fully climate-neutral by 2040.
Volvo and Northvolt originally considered some fifty locations to build the production plant and finally selected three. Flanders would have been a logical choice, given the proximity of Volvo Car Gent, where Volvo builds about 200 000 electric vehicles a year. Today, the Volvo production unit in Ghent is one of the most important industrial employers in the Flemish region, with about 7 000 staff members on the payroll.