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The Chinese automobile producer Chery is to manufacture electric cars in Barcelona from the end of this year. The announcement of the joint deal with the Spanish EV producer Ebro and its parent company Btech signifies the arrival of the first-ever Chinese car manufacturer to set up in Spain and one of the first in Europe, creating 1,000 jobs centred on the city's Zona Franca logistics zone - specifically, on the site occupied by Nissan until its closure in 2021. A formal ceremony to announce the agreement, with representatives of the Catalan and Spanish government together with Chinese representatives will be held this Friday.

After several days of rumours that the agreement had been reached, the Spanish company Ebro EV Motors, which led the agreement with the Chinese producer, finally announced the deal officially. Ebro and Chery will join in a joint venture with Btech and hope to start manufacturing from the end of the year. The deal was closed in the Chinese city of Wuhu by the Ebro CEO, Pedro Calef, and Guibing Zhan, vice president of Chery. Catalan business minister Roger Torrent also travelled with the mission. Chery is to employ about 1,000 workers in the Zona Franca, located between Barcelona city, the port and the El Prat airport. Among those employed will be many of the 700 former workers at the plant of Japanese auto producer Nissan, which moved its Barcelona production to the plants of its partner Renault in 2021.



Roger Torrent, Catalan business minister: "This news culminates the transition of the Nissan plant, repositions us in the electric mobility of the 21st century and, above all, is part of our maximum political objective, the re-industrialization of Catalonia - clean, modern and sustainable."

The negotiation with Chery has lasted months and, although not officially closed until this Tuesday, it appears that only the small print remained to be completed since last week, and even the details of the official event for this Friday had begun to leak. Engineering firm BTech, which is the parent company of Ebro, has completely taken over the D-Hub, former site of Nissan, and has formalized the joint venture with Ebro and Chery to set up this new plant, which the Catalan business minister Roger Torrent was quick to celebrate.

A few minutes after the deal was formalized, Torrent stated that "the agreement between Ebro and Chery successfully completes the re-industrialization process of Nissan". "We had proposed industrial continuity with an activity linked to the automotive sector and with this agreement it has been achieved", added Torrent, who noted his multiple visits to China and meetings with representatives of the country to advance towards this agreement.

"This accord is good for our country, for auxiliary industry, for the entire supply industry of this value chain and it relocates us in the 21st century context moving towards electric mobility," added Torrent.

Almost two years of negotiations

Chery first expressed interested in Catalonia as a manufacturing centre in 2022 and, at the end of that year, visited the Zona Franca site. Four months later, in March, a re-industrialization agreement for the site was signed, opening the door to new industrial uses on the lands that Nissan was leaving behind. The meetings and contacts between the companies and with the participation of Catalan and Spanish ministries continued at the end of last year and into 2024.

The signing comes just two months after Chary's Omoda electric vehicle brand began selling units in Spain. It landed with the Omoda 5, an SUV retailing for about 27,900 euros, and hopes to expand its sales range starting in the autumn. Production from the Zona Franca will allow it to manufacture locally for the European market and reduce exports, as well as accessing Spanish economic assistance such as the Strategic Projects for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTES) for electric vehicles.