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Hong Kong automotive company to invest 80 M€ in Catalonia

The facilities will involve an initial investment of 80 million euros and 200 jobs

It was the third announcement of investment in Catalonia by a Chinese automotive group in less than 10 years-- this time by Thunder Power, a technology group specializing in electric vehicles and headquartered in Hong Kong. Yesterday the group announced that it will set up an R&D center in Catalonia to develop the technology for the brand´s new models. The facilities will involve an initial investment of 80 million euros and 200 jobs, and will be operational in 2018, according to an announcement by the Generalitat yesterday. The company also announced that it is thinking of Catalonia as the site to build, in a second phase, a production plant with more than 1,000 workers (and €200 million in initial investment) to assemble and distribute the brand´s future cars in Europe.

The announcement was made in the context of Minister of Business and Knowledge Jordi Baiget´s visit to China to attract investment for the automotive sector. Baiget and the CEO of Thunder Power, Wellen Sham, signed a collaboration agreement to facilitate the arrival of the multinational in Catalonia. "We have done this with the desire to perpetuate the industrial dynamism that has always characterized our country, and to open this sector to the future via Industry 4.0, which is autonomous and electrical vehicles", said Baiget.

Two previous announcements, to no avail

This hub would complement the Thunder Power production plant in China. It therefore appears that there will finally be a Chinese automaker located in Catalonia after two projects that went up in smoke. In 2010, Catalonia’s Montilla government reached an investment agreement with Chinese automaker Chery. Over time, however, there was no further news of the project. One of the agreement´s negotiators, IESE professor Pedro Nueno, explained to ARA that the crisis put the brakes on the project: "It lost momentum, both here in Catalonia and in China. The Chinese are somewhat afraid of moving outside of China, of not being well received. If things had happened faster, it could have come to fruition", admitted Nueno.

The case of Chery, however, is not unique. With the arrival of CiU to the government, the Generalitat made a second announcement, in this case regarding the Chinese company Brilliance, an ally of BMW for producing vehicles in the Asian powerhouse. As in the previous case, the CiU project also foundered and the Business Ministry explained to ARA that the Chinese took no further steps after the initial announcement. With Thunder Power, however, the Generalitat has once again opened the door to investment from the Asian country, with its sights set on the future: the electric car.

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