The economy of Poland’s Silesia region gets a major boost with announcement of major new investment from carmaker Fiat Chrysler.
Fiat Chrysler (FCA) will invest 755 million zloty (167.15 million euros) in its plant in Tychy, Poland, it was announced on December 29, in a move that will see new electric and hybrid vehicles produced at the factory.
FCA’s Jeep, Fiat and Alfa Romeo models “will be manufactured using the most advanced drive systems, including all-electric drive”, at the Tychy plant, in Poland’s southern Silesia coal basin, according to a company statement.
“The preparations have already started,” it added.
‘Proof of market confidence’
The investment comes as a major boost for Poland, the largest economy in emerging Europe, which is hoping a switch to electric vehicles can help its automotive sector catch up with regional rivals such as Czechia and Slovakia.
“Modern, hybrid and electric cars of the Jeep, Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands will start to leave the factory in Tychy in 2022,” Poland’s deputy prime minister Jarosław Gowin wrote on Twitter, adding that it was “proof of market confidence in Poland”.
Nowoczesne, hybrydowe i elektryczne samochody marek Jeep, Fiat i Alfa Romeo już w 2022 zaczną wyjeżdżać z fabryki w Tychach. Inwestycja warta 755 mln zł z perspektywą wielokrotnego zwiększenia nakładów to koronny dowód zaufania rynków do Polski.
— Jarosław Gowin (@Jaroslaw_Gowin) December 29, 2020
The Tychy factory, which employs around 2,500 people, currently produces the Fiat 500 subcompact car and Lancia Ypsilon supermini. In 2019, the plant produced around 263,000 vehicles, almost all of which were exported to 58 markets worldwide.
Fiat Chrysler plans to increase annual production at the plant to as many as 400,000 small cars based on PSA Group’s Common Modular Platform, according to Italian press reports earlier this year.
The FCA announcement comes just weeks after Poland said it would build its own, state-backed electric cars, with production set to begin by 2024.
Poland’s own electric car
ElectroMobility Poland (EMP), the company responsible for the electric cars, which will be branded Izera, said that its electric car factory will be built in Jaworzno, also in the Silesia region. However, the firm also confirmed that production would not begin until 2024.
ElectroMobility revealed two prototypes of the Izera vehicles – an SUV and a hatchback – in July, claiming that the first cars will leave the production plant in the third quarter of 2023.
Both the SUV and the hatchback, which look good, promise satisfactory, though far from groundbreaking, performance. Zero to 100 km/h should take less than eight seconds while the driving range will reach up to 400 kilometres.
Izera aims to offer two battery packs compatible with power wall home chargers as well as fast-charging stations. This could be crucial given that the country currently has just 1,194 charging points, compared with more than 27,000 in neighbouring Germany.
Poland’s nationalist government, led by the Law and Justice part (PiS), has been keen to promote and invest in local companies with the aim of creating globally-competitive giants ever since it took office in 2015.
The government earlier this year announced plans to merge three of the four shareholders of ElectroMobility Poland (PGE, Enea, Tauron), into two groups as part of a planned reform of the entire energy industry. The fourth shareholder, Energa, was in April acquired by state-owned oil company PKN Orlen.
The development of Izera fits this trend, and the government hopes that it will boost research and development, as well as innovation, across the country.
There is potentially a big local market for the vehicles, if they are priced well enough: Poland has fewer than 7,000 fully electric cars on its roads, although the country is a leader in the production of electric buses, with Solaris, based in Bolechowo-Osiedle near Poznań, producing vehicles for cities across Europe.
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