6 September 2023
Volvo invests in Chinese SiC-based power module maker Leadrive
Volvo Cars Tech Fund, the corporate venture capital arm of Sweden-based Volvo Cars, has invested in Leadrive Technology of Shanghai, China, which was founded in 2017 and manufactures power electronics and control units for electric cars, specializing in designing and building power modules that use silicon carbide (SiC).
“Leadrive’s technology demonstrates a lot of potential for the development of more efficient electric drivetrains,” comments Volvo Cars Tech Fund’s CEO Alexander Petrofski. “That potential closely aligns with our own focus on electrification.” Volvo aims to become a fully electric car maker by 2030 and to be a climate-neutral company by 2040.
“Volvo Cars and Leadrive have been working very closely on the development of new-generation SiC technologies, which has built a firm stairway towards the strategic collaboration,” says Leadrive’s founder & CEO Jie Shen. “This is a great milestone in Leadrive’s global strategy and demonstrates the huge potential of our cooperation in advanced electrification technology,” he adds.
Focus on vertical integration
Focused on vertical integration to gain control over its electrification technology, Volvo says that its roadmap entails collaborating with relevant partners where it makes sense. It says that it has hence doubled down on critical technology investments in recent years and made key decisions on what it builds versus what it buys, for example by bringing the development and manufacturing of e-motors and inverters in-house while also developing its own battery management software. In addition, it is investing in the development and production of its own battery packs through Novo Energy, its joint venture with Northvolt, optimizing battery chemistry and integration in its cars.
“Together, these investments in batteries, e-motors, inverters and battery management software allow us to control the entire electrical propulsion system in our fully electric cars,” says Volvo. “By working with firms like Leadrive, we can broaden our knowledge base and explore new exciting technologies,” it adds.
Accelerating the transformation
“We started our Volvo Cars Tech Fund in 2018 to invest in companies and technology areas that transform the automotive industry, such as artificial intelligence, electrification, autonomous driving, sustainability and digital commerce,” says the firm. “The Tech Fund makes strategic investments to help start-ups to thrive and jointly accelerate the transformation of the global mobility industry.”
This latest investment by Volvo Cars Tech Fund is part of a new funding round by Leadrive, giving the Tech Fund a small minority stake in the firm.