Swedish battery group Northvolt said yesterday it has launched its “gigafactory” in northern Sweden, the first of its kind to be undertaken by a European company on the continent.

Intended to compete with US electric car giant Tesla and Asian producers of lithium-ion batteries, the factory in Skelleftea assembled its first battery cell late on Tuesday, Northvolt said.

“Marking a new chapter in European industrial history, the cell is the first to have been fully designed, developed and assembled at a gigafactory by a homegrown European battery company,” Northvolt said.

Once at full capacity, the site is expected to produce enough batteries to power 1 million electric vehicles annually, with an annual production capacity of 60 gigawatt hours.

“Today is a great milestone for Northvolt which the team has worked very hard to achieve,” chief executive Peter Carlsson said in a company statement.

“Of course, this first cell is only the beginning. Over the course of the coming years, we look forward to Northvolt Ett expanding its production capacity greatly to enable the European transition to clean energy,” he said.