China’s clean car manufacturers find a European foothold in Hungary

Years of under-investment in electric vehicle technologies and supply chains have left European carmakers struggling to keep up with their Chinese competitors. But even as the EU debates putting up trade barriers against electric vehicles imported from China, Chinese automakers are investing hundreds of millions in setting up their very own European factories in Viktor Orban’s Hungary.

Europe’s borderlands are changing. In the city of Debrecen in the south of Hungary, a lithium-ion battery plant worth €7.3 billion is being built over a 221-hectare stretch of former farmland in the Southern Industrial Park special economic zone. The factory – Hungary’s largest greenfield investment project ever – is being built by Chinese manufacturer CATL, which controls nearly two-fifths of the world’s electric vehicle (EV) battery market. Once production starts in 2025, the 100-GWh plant will be the biggest EV battery producer in Europe.

Tamas Gerocs, a researcher and international adjunct at the State University of New York in Binghamton, said that BYD posed a direct challenge to Europe’s major automakers.

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