CATL creates 9,000 jobs in Debrecen

The largest investment in Hungary's history will be made in Debrecen, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced.

Photo credit: Facebook (Papp László)

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjárt and CEO of battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited Robin Zeng confirmed the earlier announcement by the company and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The world’s largest electric battery manufacturer, China’s CATL, is building its factory in Debrecen on 221 hectares of land in the Southern Economic Zone. One of the most important players in the global electric vehicle industry announced the EUR 7 billion investment on the 12th of August 2022, and details were announced at the Kölcsey Center in Debrecen on the 5thf of September 2022, following final approval by the company’s shareholder council. 

CATL’s CEO Robin Zeng said in his video message that “The more we are committed to Debrecen, the more we see how great the business environment and the skilled workforce is in Hungary, especially in Debrecen. That is why we firmly believe that our investment will further strengthen our competitive advantage and our relationships with our partners across Europe.”

He highlighted that they will use “green resources” and plan to develop a solar power system with their partners in Hungary. He added that their factory in the Chinese city of Yibin is the first carbon-neutral battery factory in the world, and they will use the experience gained from this factory for their investment in Debrecen.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó confirmed that the investment, worth HUF 3,000 billion, is the largest ever in Hungary and one of the five largest greenfield investments in Europe in the last ten years.

The minister pointed out that there was an international competition for this investment and they negotiated for two and a half years before they were able to win it. Nine thousand new jobs will be created, not to mention the jobs provided by the expected development of suppliers and service companies. He announced that CATL signed the first legally binding contract with the city of Debrecen on the 5th of September 2022  and the company will purchase the 221-hectare site in the Southern Economic Zone.

László Papp, Mayor of Debrecen, posted on his Facebook page that over the past 8 years the city has not only achieved economic success but that industries have settled in Debrecen that will be the dominant industries of the 21st century. “Electromobility and energy storage; – without these fields the future is unthinkable,” he wrote.

According to Deputy Mayor of Debrecen Lajos Barcsa, CATL’s investment will make the city a leading center of electromobility in Europe. Considering the European Union’s decision that only zero-emission cars can be put on the market from 2035, this is a great opportunity for Debrecen and the professionals who want to settle here. In his speech, the deputy mayor stressed the priority role of the Southern Economic Zone. 

“We started developing the industrial park in 2015, but it has been regulated as an industrial area since 2001. After the initial steps, investors came forward quickly: even before today’s announcement, we had already created more than 3,000 new jobs there. The priority status of the economic zone was confirmed by a government decision in 2015, and a number of decisions have been taken on its further development,” he added.

Yang Chao, Interim Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Budapest, said that the two countries signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement five years ago and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the cooperation that strengthened the ties between China and the Central and Eastern European countries.

He added that the volume of bilateral trade between China and Hungary will reach USD 15.7 billion in 2021. By the end of last year, China’s investment in Hungary was estimated at USD 7.5 billion. Hungary has been China’s most important investment destination in East-Central Europe for several years.

CATL plans to start production in Debrecen by early 2025. The battery plant, with a capacity of 100 gigawatt-hours (GWh), will be the company’s second plant in Europe after Arnstadt.