2023 ended with the news that Czech officials had failed to lure Volkswagen to build a car battery factory near Pilsen had ended in failure. Poor site preparation and the country’s antiquated planning process lay behind the fiasco. Meanwhile, the last big news item of the year in Hungary was the decision by BYD to build its first major European car factory in Szeged. In September, the Chinese EV giant grabbed the headlines at the Munich auto show, putting the EU on alert with a pair of slick new (affordable) cars. But the company had sold just 13,000 units as of November, so the threat to European makers was still just theoretical. The Hungarian plant plans change that, as it would have a capacity of up to 200,000 cars annually.
“It’s the first step towards serious competitive entry, and sets a two-to three-year timeline ticking,” writes Daniel Roeska of Bernstein Analysts. The deal will require approval from the EU Commission and will inevitably be in the fray as the EU discusses ramping up tariffs for Chinese imports. Hungary says the investment will result in the creation of “thousands” of jobs and pledged north of $133 million in financing and infrastructure investments. BYD already produces buses in Komarom.
Speaking in an interview for E15, Hyundai’s Czech head of QC Assembly said a mixture of regulations and market forces were driving the prices of EV and combustion engine vehicles closer together. “Competition between manufacturers is rising quickly and I believe this will help bring about cheaper [EV] prices,” he said. “Current studies and estimates say that EVs could fall faster in price, so we’ll see. I believe the prices of combustion and EV cars will be the same within five years.”
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