Volvo Cars Tech Fund invests in power electronics startup Leadrive

Volvo is on the road towards becoming a fully electric car maker by 2030, an important focus area for its technology investments and R&D spending is e-motors, inverters and overall electric drivetrain optimisation.

Only by gaining control over its electrification technology stack – a process called 'vertical integration' – can it create pure electric Volvo cars that deliver on everything customers want: longer range, faster charging and a great Volvo driving experience.

The latest investment by the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, the corporate venture capital arm of Volvo, reflects those ambitions. Leadrive, a Shanghai-based company founded in 2017, is an exciting new player in power electronics and control units for fully electric cars.

Leadrive is specialised in designing and building power modules that use silicon carbide (SiC) technology. Silicon carbide is a semiconductor base material that promises to unlock highly efficient and flexible electric propulsion systems.

“Leadrive’s technology demonstrates a lot of potential for the development of more efficient electric drivetrains,” said Alexander Petrofski, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. “That potential closely aligns with our own focus on electrification, so we’re excited to invest in the company and help it to continue growing its business.”

“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,” said Jie Shen, Founder and CEO of Leadrive. “This is a great milestone in Leadrive's global strategy and demonstrates the huge potential of our cooperation in advanced electrification technology.”

Firmly focused on vertical integration

Volvo’s investment in Leadrive fits with its electrification roadmap. Firmly focused on vertical integration, the roadmap also entails collaborating with relevant partners where it makes sense. To make that roadmap a reality, it’s doubled down on critical technology investments in recent years and made key decisions on what we build versus what we buy.

For example, Volvo brought the development and manufacturing of e-motors and inverters in-house, while also developing its own battery management software. On top of that it’s investing in the development and production of its own battery packs through Novo Energy, the joint venture together with Northvolt, optimising battery chemistry and integration in our cars.

Together, these investments in batteries, e-motors, inverters and battery management software allow Volvo to control the entire electrical propulsion system in its fully electric cars. By working with firms such as Leadrive, Volvo can broaden its knowledge base and explore new exciting technologies.

Accelerating the transformation

The Volvo Cars Tech Fund started 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. The Tech Fund makes strategic investments to help startups to thrive and jointly accelerate the transformation of the global mobility industry.

This latest investment made by Volvo Cars Tech Fund is part of a new funding round by Leadrive, giving the Tech Fund a small minority stake in the company.