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BMW raises investment in Debrecen plant

German carmaker BMW is adding a battery assembly plant to its electric vehicle factory being built in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, bringing its investment in the project to 800 billion forints (EUR 2bn), the minister of foreign affairs and trade said on Friday.

The addition of the battery plant makes the factory the third biggest greenfield investment in Hungary’s history, Peter Szijjarto said in Debrecen.

The construction of the new plant will create 500 jobs in addition to the 1,000 originally planned, the minister said, adding that the government is supporting the investment with a 13.5 billion forint grant.

Szijjarto praised the Debrecen plant, saying its operation will completely exclude the use of fossil fuels.

He welcomed that BMW will build its first full platform for electric models at the east Hungarian factory and even produce the batteries for them there.

The investment will give further momentum to Hungary’s car industry, whose output increased by 23 percent in the first nine months of the year, exceeding 8,700 billion forints, Szijjarto said. He added that the sector’s output could exceed 10,000 billion forints for the first time this year.

“Hungary by now has become the European champion of the automotive sector’s transition to electric vehicles, and we are rightfully being touted as the favourite for the world championship title, too,” the minister said.

He praised the Hungarian government’s strategic decision to set the goal of making Hungary the leader of the European and eventually the global electric vehicle industry.

The number of electric cars on the roads could reach 300 million by 2030, with these types of vehicles making up 60 percent of new car sales by then, Szijjarto said. This means that demand for electric batteries will rise to around 5,600 GWh by 2030 from 340 GWh in 2021, he added.

The minister underlined the importance of Hungary having established the most favourable investment environment for EV companies and having formed alliances with the sector’s biggest Eastern and Western players. Hungary today is the meeting point for the Eastern and Western EV industries, he added.

Szijjarto noted that Hungary was the only country besides Germany and China to have plants from all three big German premium carmakers and that three of the leading Chinese and South Korean battery makers have decided to set up their European production centres in Hungary.

BMW production chief Milan Nedeljkovic said the company was planning for the long term and was strongly committed to Debrecen and Hungary. He said the Debrecen base would be the first BMW plant to fully embody the concept of the iFACTORY.

Hans-Peter Kemser, the director of the Debrecen plant, said construction was on schedule, adding that BMW was currently recruiting its staff for the factory. BMW’s training centre will launch its dual training programmes next autumn in cooperation with its regional training partners, he said.

Markus Fallboehmer, BMW’s senior vice president for battery production, said battery and vehicle production at the plant will both begin in 2025, adding that construction on the 140,000 sqm battery assembly plant had recently got under way.

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