The CEO of Northvolt is trying to calm down in the face of the slowdown in the US industry

While acknowledging the slowdown the electric battery industry in the United States is currently experiencing, Northvolt North America’s CEO sought to reassure Tuesday about the long-term viability of his mega-factory project on the coast – south of Montreal.

• Also read: Battery sector: “It is certain that it represents an economic risk,” acknowledges the CEO of Investissement Québec

“Listen, we are very calm given the fact that it is a promising industry that will employ a lot of people for a very long time,” Paolo Cerruti replied to the Journal on the sidelines of the Northvolt co-founder’s first speech to members of the Chamber of Commerce the Montreal Metropolitan Region (CCMM).

In recent months, major names in the American automotive industry such as Ford, General Motors and Tesla have shelved plans to expand their electric vehicle production capacity amid weaker-than-expected consumer demand.

The CEO of Northvolt is trying to calm down in

Representatives of the Common Front, which brings together 420,000 public sector union members in negotiations with Quebec to renew their collective agreement, loudly interrupted four times the event organized by the Montreal Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (CCMM) at the Reine-Elizabeth Hotel. in Montreal. Martin Jolicour

In turn, big names in electric battery manufacturing such as LG Energy Solution responded by reducing their production, implementing hundreds of layoffs, and halting their investments in several states (Michigan, Georgia, etc.).

The South Korean SK On, with which Ford signed an $11 billion contract in 2021, has even decided to postpone the opening of its plant in Kentucky, whose activities – like Northvolt in Montérégie – were scheduled to begin in 2026.

It was enough for an industry analyst at UBS last month to lower his forecast for growth in the U.S. electric vehicle industry next year from 45% to 10%.

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$3 billion in aid

Regardless, the head of Northvolt North America, himself a former vice president of Tesla’s global supply chain, tried to calm the press crowd.

“If you look at the context [sur des périodes] “Three months or four months, there are fluctuations,” the Northvolt co-founder recognized. Furthermore, he continued, the United States has the necessary flexibility [législative] Laying people off very quickly […] which they do not hesitate to do.

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The huge site where the future Northvolt battery factory is to be built, between McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand in Montérégie. Photo Martin Chevalier

“Nevertheless,” he concluded, “I remain very optimistic about the slope that we have in the industry in general,” thereby rejecting the thesis that these fluctuations in one way or another affect the importance of the Swedish company’s factory project in could affect Quebec.

The latter, remember, plans to build a $7 billion electric vehicle battery factory in McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand in Montérégie. Quebec has committed to investing $1.4 billion in public aid in the project and providing $1.5 billion in additional incentives if production goes well.

3000 applications

During his speech, which was interrupted several times by loud demonstrations from representatives of the 420,000 public sector union members currently in negotiations, Paolo Cerruti reiterated his hope of winning the hearts of Quebecers.

“We chose Quebec and I want Quebec to choose us too,” alluding to the mixed response the company has received in the province since its investment announcement two months ago. Surrounding residents also raised concerns about pollution, potential destruction of wetlands, truck traffic and a lack of housing for future workers.

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Paolo Cerruti, CEO of Northvolt North America. Martin Jolicour

However, the latter said that he was encouraged by the receipt, in a week after the announcement of the creation, of no fewer than “3,000 spontaneous applications” from workers seeking to join Northvolt’s production lines from 2026.

Until then, the Swedish company still needs to obtain the necessary environmental permits to start building its factory. And then that the selected construction companies find the necessary workers to build that factory within the required time frame, a concern also shared with the Journal by Investissement Québec CEO Guy LeBlanc earlier this week.

Once operational, Northvolt plans to be able to produce enough cells at its Quebec factories to meet the demand of one million electric vehicles per year.

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