After nearly 40 years in the automotive industry, Tom Haarstad took a leap to Hagal and the world of batteries. It was the opportunity to prolong the life of new and used batteries that ignited a new flame.
Tom developed a keen interest in the automotive industry development during his long career with Bertel O. Steen, where he was in charge of car brands such as, Daihatsu, Kia, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep. When he heard about Hagal´s ambitions of developing new battery technology enabling up to 30 percent longer life for EV batteries, he was ready for a career move.
Employee number 3
Tom came to Hagal as employee number three in the autumn of 2020, and currently holds the role Chief Procurement Officer. As we approach 2021, the company counts 28 rebels, and can look back at an eventful year.
–Joining a startup at the age of 68 might not be an option for everyone, but for me, this was a chance to explore the opportunities that new battery technology offers the automotive industry. There is so much happening in this field, so for me, working in a company like Hagal with a technology that will be a key enabler for electrification, feels meaningful and challenging, he says.
–The work environment in Hagal is inspiring. We have a team consisting of seven nationalities with different skillsets and strong expertise, working side by side. We have an open culture and everyone gives full throttle, he points out.
Norway, a test lab for the automotive industry
Electrical vehicle sales smashed records in 2020 with a global growth of 43 percent. More than 10 million EVs hit the roads, and we can expect an annual sales growth of 30 percent and 145 million EVs globally by 2030.
–The electrification of the automotive industry breeds an enormous amount of important sustainability initiatives, from the car manufacturers and other companies introducing new technologies and ways of solving challenges, Tom explains.
According to Reuters, car manufacturers will be investing 515 billion US dollars in the development of new EV technology and production in the years to come.
–Norway’s large share of EVs, combined with the opportunity to charge our cars with electricity from 100 percent renewable energy sources, gives us major advantages. As a small and mature market with big climatic variations and strong consumer rights, we have become a test market for the car manufacturers. We are a mini market for innovation and can embrace new technology at an early stage. This is especially shown through the Chinese car manufacturers using Norway as their first export market, Tom explains.
–Developing the next generation battery management system in Norway, will give Hagal credibility. As the cars get scrapped, we will have access to a huge amount of used batteries that the Rebel technology can use for stationary energy storage.
The accelerated electrification of the transport sector pushes the car manufacturers to do everything they can to build a sustainable foundation for the future. Emission free cars, emission reduction in car manufacturing and delivery chains, development of batteries with a longer lifespan and recycling facilities, are among the initiatives they have inaugurated to be the vanguard of the sustainability race.
–There is less talk about the opportunities for second-life batteries, which has a massive potential. The UN is strengthening the requirements for sustainable and safe handling of batteries throughout the life cycle, including used batteries. The need to test battery modules in a safe way, without big interventions is growing, and Hagal will be ready with our technology, Tom emphasizes.
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