Peter Carlsson is the founding CEO of Northvolt, a Swedish-based battery developer and manufacturer that specializes in the production of lithium-ion technology for electric vehicles. Having just received a $14 billion order from Volkswagen, it’s clear that Northvolt is fast outgrowing its start-up status. Find out more about the man giving Tesla a run for their money with these 10 things you didn’t know about Peter Carlsson.
1. He’s well educated
These days, we’ve become so used to big-name CEOs of equally big-name companies being college dropouts, it’s actually surprising when you stumble on one who isn’t. Bucking the trend for semi-educated executives is Carlsson, a man with not one but two degrees to his name. His first comes in the shape of the MSc in Economics, Production, and Quality Control he earned from Lulea University of Technology in 1994. The second comes by way of an advanced degree in Leadership he earned from Stockholm School of Economics in 2003.
2. He loves to cook
If all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, Carlsson is in no danger of following suit. Although he clearly spends a lot of time focusing on his career (you don’t get to be the CEO of the EU’s ‘go-to company for home-grown batteries’ (as Nothvolt has been described by various outlets) without at least a little hard graft), he also makes sure to keep a good chunk of his time free for his passions. According to sacc-sf.org, Carlsson’s favorite way of passing the time is indulging his hobbies of running, mountain biking, golf, cooking, and travel.
3. He served as the vice president of Tesla
Carlsson has held numerous positions of note over the course of his career, not least during his time with Tesla. He joined the company in 2011 in the position of Vice President of Supply Chain. During his tenure, he was responsible for leading all supply chain and purchasing decisions on future vehicles, as well as ensuring the cost efficiency and quality of the supplies used in Tesla’s product range.
4. He was CPO of NXP Semiconductors
Even before he joined Tesla, Carlsson was already a respected figure in the industry thanks to his work at NXP Semiconductors. During his time with the company, Carlsson served as Chief Product Officer. Although his primary responsibilities lay in overseeing all purchasing and outsourcing decisions, he’s also been credited with transitioning the company from a decentralized organization into a global commodity structure. Prior to joining NXP Semiconductors, Carlsson served as CPO at Sony Ericsson where, among other things, he designed and implemented the company’s framework for Supplier Quality Assurance.
5. Northvolt isn’t his first rodeo
When Carlsson stepped down from Tesla in 2015, he didn’t do so with the intention of launching Northvolt (or SGF Energy, as it was known for the first two years of its life). While he’d get around to that eventually, there was one little thing he wanted to do first: launch another, very different company called Amplify Operations. Founded in Palo Alto, California, Amplify aims to help startups develop scalable operations through the provision of advisory services around innovation, supply chain execution, digitalization, and other key activities. That same year, he also founded the UK-based information technology company, Turnpike Group Limited.
6. He launched Northvolt to capitalize on his experience
When Carlsson left Tesla, creating a company that made batteries for electric vehicles wasn’t on his radar. It was only when he started to consider just how much experience and knowledge he’d gained at Tesla, and began to question how he could best make use of that, that he stumbled on the idea of Northvolt. “(At) the beginning of 2016: I’d stepped out of Tesla and I was thinking about “what is the next mission?” he shared with cleantechnica.com. “And I actually thought that that mission was going to be around helping other startups grow — but realized that I wanted to make use of my operational background and the experiences also achieved at Tesla.”
7. He’s a director of multiple organizations
If running his own company wasn’t enough to keep Carlsson busy, his board membership certainly will. Despite the rigors of his duties as Northvolt’s CEO, Carlsson manages to find enough time to serve on the board of directors for a variety of companies, including Swedish based manufacturer Gränges, sustainable process technology, equipment and services operator Metso Outotec, clean-tech startup Orbital Systems, and biometrics company Fingerprint Cards. If all that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he also serves as an advisor to Elementum SCM, the company behind the world’s first cloud-native supply chain automation platform.
8. He’s secured over a billion dollars in financing
Since founding Northvolt in 2015, Carlsson has made no bones about the fact that capital, and lots of it, will be one of the primary factors in determining the business’s early success. In 2019, the company’s bank balance got a healthy boost when the European Investment Bank offered a loan of around $350 million. Later that same year, several other companies including Folksam, Goldman Sachs, BMW, and Volkswagen confirmed they’d be stumping up some contributions of their own. According to Wikipedia, Northvolt has now received around $1.6 billion in investments from a consortium of commercial banks, pension funds and other financial institutions.
9. He’s not worried about competition from Tesla
Tesla’s dominance of the market for electric vehicle batteries may have raised concerns in some quarters, but Carlsson isn’t sweating it. Speaking to Bloomberg, he revealed that he doesn’t consider Tesla any kind of threat. Asked how he thinks that Tesla’s move into production in Germany this year will affect his business, he answered “Near term, it will mean increased competition when recruiting in Northern Germany. Other than that, I see it as very positive that there are investments being made and that Tesla is making a strong commitment to Europe. We are not in any way competitors. We have basically the same level of ambition, but Tesla is building batteries for their own cars.”
10. He’s got big plans for the future
If there’s one thing you can’t accuse Carlsson of, it’s thinking small. During an interview with euractiv.com, he revealed the scale of his ambitions for the future. “We expect that the European market will have a yearly need of 500 to 600 gigawatt-hours. If we consider the advancement of various plants, I expect there to be at least 10 gigantic plants in Europe by then,” he said, adding, “And I hope, that maybe three of these will belong to Northvolt.”