He’s already built one of Europe’s biggest tech companies. Now Daniel Ek, the founder of Swedish music streaming giant Spotify, is helping kickstart a different kind of business. In the forests of Swedish Lapland, not too far from the Arctic circle, a cluster of cranes and trucks are busy assembling what is set to become Europe’s biggest gigafactory: a giant industrial project known as Northvolt which will manufacture enough lithium-ion batteries to power 600,000 electric cars per year. Bankrolled by Ek, a billionaire, as well as Volkswagen, Goldman Sachs and a string of other bluechip investors, the plant at Skelleftea, which already employs 800 people, is due to enter production in 2021. It is one of the most visible symbols yet of Europe’s electric vehicle (EV) revolution – but this is only the start. They may have been late to the EV party but Europe’s carmakers are racing to catch up with established rivals in China and the US, where the charge is being led by industry giant Tesla. Currently, only 3pc of global lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity is located in Europe. That figure is about to surge. This is a critical issue the UK needs to address to protect the long-term fortunes of Britain’s car industry, which employs 823,000 people and accounts for 14pc of exports, with turnover of £82bn. Certainly, practical support for a UK gigafactory would be far more useful for the UK’s long-term economic prospects than the vague promises about retraining workers offered up by Boris Johnson this week as a remedy for rising levels of joblessness caused by the pandemic.
Telegraph 1st Oct 2020 read more »