Gothenburg charges its batteries
Gothenburg is charging its batteries to position itself in the markets for electrified mobility. Companies, academia, the city and the Swedish state.
Chalmers is something of a catalyst. Many of Sweden’s biggest and most innovative companies in electromobility have founders and employees who studied there. Also, Research Institutes of Sweden, RISE, has its headquarters in Gothenburg, which has the country's highest concentration of test arenas.
“We have an ecosystem which is getting stronger and stronger. Generally speaking, we’re good at connectivity and cars. Four or five places in the world have similar high levels of expertise in the automotive industry and Gothenburg’s one of them,” says Dennis Nobelius, Chief Operating Officer of Polestar, with over 100,000 electric vehicles in 27 countries.
Henrik Svenningstorp, CEO at SEEL – Swedish Electric Transport Laboratory – thinks that the whole of Sweden is in a leading position when it comes to electromobility, and Gothenburg is home to many big companies who’ve already made the change. In June 2023 an open test arena of 15,000 square metres will open at the old airfield at Säve. There’s a lot that needs testing and measuring if electromobility is going to be put into practice. Everything, from wind and cold, vibrations, charging safety and new technologies to innovations in electric vehicles, needs testing.
“At last, the world is starting to see what’s happening,” he says. Electrification has been at the top of his agenda since 2005.
“This is the most important question for the future if we’re going to create sustainable communities,” says Henrik. When the SEEL decision was taken in 2017 nobody knew that battery producer Northvolt, working with the Volvo Group, was going to create an R&D centre, NOVO Energy, in Torslanda, just outside Gothenburg. But it was realised that Europe needed to be more competitive in electromobility.
“Rapid changes in production and the global scramble for components is a major challenge for the automotive industry,” believes Henrik.
“The current developments in technology create winners and losers. You have to be quick on your feet, be brave enough to take major decisions and have a good understanding of technology. You have to know your core business to understand which elements need research and development, and what sort of product you’re selling.”
You need muscles behind the research – and not only the Swedish state. That’s the opinion of Joel Görsch, Investment Advisor at Business Region Gothenburg.
“Thanks to our two Volvo groups and SKF with their major investments in R&D, we have a strong research presence in chemistry, materials, battery systems and digitalisation, all of which are linked to electromobility.”
“Personally, I think that the breadth of expertise in our region is exciting – from developers of AI for digital services, telematics, hardware, electrification and self-driving vehicles.”
Mobility is not just about how you move from A to B. You may use electric cars, cycles, boats, electric planes or buses, or plan urban areas so that people can walk.
“We need to develop a system where it’s clear which is the most efficient way to get around without emissions.” This policy meets no resistance in Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg. Indeed, it was Volvo Cars which took the initiative to establish Gothenburg’s Green City Zone, which uses the whole city as a test arena for electromobility in real-time, the goal being zero vehicle emissions by 2030.
Text: Ulrica Segersten
Illustration: Tove Engström & Istockphoto
The story was earlier published in Gothenburg Magazine
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Also read: Gothenburg – a leader in E-mobility