September 19, 2020

LG ready to invest heavily in the Nissan plant to make batteries


Barcelona / Madrid

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The search for a spare part to cover the industrial vacuum that will be left by the closure of the Nissan plant in Barcelona – scheduled for December 2021 – is one of the priorities that administrations and unions have set for themselves. A few days ago, the Ministry of Industry pointed out, without specifying, that there would be a couple of interested investors related to electric mobility, and yesterday the letters were partially uncovered Right now, the option that charges in full is that of the South Korean firm LG Chem, ready to make a millionaire investment to convert Nissan’s facilities in the Zona Franca industrial estate into an electric battery factory. Between 1,500 and 2,000 jobs could be saved of the 2,500 that went to the streets with the closure announcement, and the investment would be conditional on receiving some 400 million aid from European funds.

According to TV3, LG is the most mature option and the one that administrations are inclined towards. The Ministry of Business of the Generalitat, appealing to prudence, limited itself to pointing out that it works with several options. More explicit was the outgoing ex-councilor Mari Àngels Chacón – ceased by Torra the day before – who pointed out that it is only necessary to close the fringes.

The arrival of LG Chem – LG’s subsidiary – would in fact be a two-way operation, while the automobile company Seat would also be involved in it, which would have guaranteed the new investor to become its battery supplier for its Martorell plant, the largest car factory in Spain. Seat announced this summer that it will invest up to 5 billion in new projects, especially related to the electric car. The carmaker did not want to confirm its involvement, limiting itself to pointing out that in electrification, “all decisions that help to move forward are positive.”

LG’s would not be the only project interested in settling in Barcelona. As revealed yesterday by the President of Labor Promotion, Josep Sánchez Llibre, in an interview with the ACN agency, another large group would be willing to invest up to 3,500 million, and would have the capacity to create 3,000 direct jobs. Fomento del Trabajo pointed out to ABC that the project is solid and that the investor considers the location of the plant, adjacent to the port and the airport, especially attractive. Industry sources point out that it would be the multinational Schneider.

Millionaire investment

The battery factory is a coveted piece for the future of the automotive industry in Spain, a sector that accounts for 10% of GDP. Barcelona offers an excellent location, due to the proximity of the Seat factory -where they will be made electric from 2025-, but also Opel in Zaragoza, Volkswagen in Pamplona and Ford in Valencia. The American company and Volkswagen, Seat’s parent company, signed an agreement last year to collaborate in the development of electric vehicles. By the way, LG Chem is the supplier of the batteries for Volkswagen’s MEB platform, a key element in the group’s electric launches.

Batteries are 40% of the added value of an electric vehicle, but their weight, up to 650 kilograms, makes transporting them complex. To attract a “gigafactory”, Industry has promoted the Spanish participation in the European Battery Alliance, in an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI), which would allow the injecting of State aid. And it has also maintained intensive contacts with the Chinese association EV100.

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