With an investment of around HUF 400 billion (EUR 1 billion), the world’s ninth largest electric battery manufacturer, China’s Eve Power, will build its first European plant in Debrecen, eastern Hungary, creating more than a thousand new jobs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced on Tuesday.
He highlighted that the company had arrived at the request of German car manufacturer BMW, who is also building a new factory in Debrecen to supply its Hungarian plant with a new generation of cylindrical battery cells. The state is providing HUF 14 billion (EUR 37.7 million) in funding for the HUF 400 billion (EUR 1 billion) project, helping to create more than 1,000 new jobs.
Péter Szijjártó said that 95 percent of the environmentally friendly project’s water needs will be met from treated wastewater and surface water, and the company will recycle part of the process wastewater on site. He added that the government will finance further major developments in the city, such as the modernization of the water utility system, i.e. water supply and sewage disposal, to the tune of HUF 108 billion (EUR 290 million). “I think that those who are rightly concerned about water here can be satisfied,” he stated.
He recalled the European decisions calling for a green turnaround and underlined that to achieve the target, the most polluting sources must be eliminated, which also requires the electrification of road transport, which is responsible for 14 percent of emissions. Electric batteries are essential for this, and the only question is where such factories will be built in Europe and who will benefit from them.
A country that can attract electric battery factories will have a long-term guarantee that its economy will grow,”
he emphasized, adding that there is huge competition for investment in the sector and countries are doing their best to attract it.
The foreign minister also said that the safety of people’s homes is always the most important thing, but stressed that the people of Debrecen have nothing to fear from the construction of the electric battery factories. “In Hungary we have much stricter environmental standards than in Europe,” he noted. Earlier, the construction of a factory by another Chinese company, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), sparked huge protests in Debrecen, with protesters citing environmental concerns.
According to a statement by Eve Power on Tuesday, the new factory will be built on 45 hectares of land in the North-West Economic Belt by 2026. The company will produce a new type of high-performance battery cells for electric BMWs, 46 millimeters in diameter, which will be smaller, lighter and 20 percent denser than those currently used, increasing range by up to 30 percent. These sixth generation batteries will have a 30 percent faster charging speed.
Also on Tuesday, at the National Investment Promotion Agency’s (HIPA) automotive conference, Szijjártó said that Hungary will not give up its position as a meeting point for Eastern and Western investment, and although some are trying to exploit people’s sense of uncertainty, it is important to know that all existing and new factories must comply with the country’s extremely strict environmental standards.
The minister focused on the sector’s electric transition, pointing out that of the ten electric battery manufacturers covering around 95 percent of the world market, six are Chinese, three are South Korean, and one is Japanese, but none are European, so it is clear that “the East has taken this industry for itself.”
“There is a significant gap between the dogmatic and ideological political level and the real world.
We like to live in the real world, so Hungary will not give up the position we have built up over the years through systematic work, namely that we have become the European meeting point for Eastern and Western investment,”
The production value of the Hungarian automotive industry has increased three and a half times in ten years, and last year it exceeded 12,000 billion forints (EUR 32.3 billion), which represents an annual growth of 31 percent. The competitiveness of the sector is also demonstrated by the 90 percent export share and the fact that last year automotive products were exported from Hungary to 173 countries worldwide.
Featured photo via MTI/Czeglédi Zsolt