Northvolt & Sunwoda reach Benchmark Tier One status for EV lithium ion battery output

Swedish startup Northvolt and China’s Sunwoda have reached Benchmark’s Tier One electric vehicle battery cell manufacturer status, as assessed by Benchmark in its Lithium ion Battery Gigafactory Assessment, as they expand capacity to challenge established producers such as CATL, BYD and LG Energy Solution.

Northvolt, which was founded in 2016, shipped its first cells to customers from its factory in Skellefteå in the north of Sweden last month while Sunwoda has also started to supply global automakers with battery cells, according to Benchmark.

Northvolt is the first homegrown European Tier One battery company, entering a market dominated for decades by Chinese, Japanese and Korean companies. Backed by Goldman Sachs, Ikea, Scania and Volkswagen, among others, Northvolt aims to challenge incumbents by making batteries using renewable energy and recycled materials.

Last December Northvolt assembled its first cell at its gigafactory in Skellefteå, Sweden. The company is also building a battery plant in Gothenburg, in a joint venture with Volvo, and another in Heide in Germany.

Northvolt currently has 16 GWh of battery capacity, expanding to 75 GWh by 2026 and 170 GWh by 2031, according to data from Benchmark’s Lithium ion Battery Gigafactory Assessment.

The company will be a key supplier to Volkswagen and has $14 billion worth of deals with the German carmaker.

A Shenzhen battery champion

Founded in 1997 Shenzhen-based Sunwoda is listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange with a market value of RMB 50.96 billion ($7.6 billion). It started producing electric vehicle batteries in 2008.

Sunwoda supplies domestic auto producers such as Dongfeng, Geely, and BAIC Motor, as well as two major foreign automotive manufacturers.

The company has 42.5 GWh of current battery production capacity in China, with plans to expand that to 97 GWh by 2026 and 177 GWh to 2031. Its biggest plant is in Nanjing, eastern China.

The company produces nickel cobalt manganese (NCM), lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cells, mainly in the prismatic format.

In June the company recently announced it would start producing cylindrical NCM cells at a RMB 2.3bn ($344m) 3 GWh facility in Lanxi, Zhejiang province.

Construction of the facility is scheduled to begin in August 2022, with final installation of the nameplate 3 GWh of cell capacity projected for December 2023.

Ranking the world’s leading producers of battery cells for electric vehicles 

Not all lithium ion batteries can be used in all electric vehicles. For industry, there is a fine balance of what Benchmark calls the ‘Three Qs’ of quality, quantity and qualification.

Every three months, Benchmark assesses each lithium ion battery cell producer into the following three tiers:

Tier 1:

  • Qualified to supply more than 1 multinational OEM/EV producer outside of China
  • Supplier to domestic Chinese EV market
  • >5 GWh of annual cumulative capacity (equivalent at time of assessment)

Tier 2:

  • Not yet qualified to supply multinational automotive OEMs / EV producers outside of China
  • Qualified to supply domestic Chinese EV manufacturers
  • Qualified to supply non EV applications
  • >1GWh of annual cumulative capacity (equivalent at time of assessment)

Tier 3:

  • Not yet qualified to supply EV end markets
  • >1GWh of annual cumulative capacity (equivalent at time of assessment)
  • Primary focus: non EV markets including portable and stationary


Benchmark has assessed the global build out of lithium ion battery production capacity globally since 2015 with data available via its monthly Lithium Ion Battery Gigafactory Assessment, for further details fill in the form below:

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