Chinese Electric Car Maker Seeks Emerging Europe Base

Confirming China’s increasing interest in emerging Europe, electric car manufacturer Zhi Dou is reportedly looking for a location to build a new plant, with Slovakia one of its preferred options. Zhi Dou, which is part of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, wants to start building cars by 2020 in a new facility which will reportedly cost around 400 million euros.

“The capacity of the new plant would be about 3,000 electric cars per month, which would require a labour force of roughly 500 people,” Branislav Kocper, legal representative of Zhi Dou Slovensko told the newspaper Hospodárske Noviny.

While Slovakia is not the only country under consideration (Slovenia, Poland, Hungary and Romania are also in the running) it is widely thought to be favourite. “Eastern Slovakia has interesting industrial parks with good infrastructure and there are several companies that might become suppliers of components and materials located there,” said Mr Kocper.

Slovakia is well known for its expertise on the automotive industry, and already hosts three car manufacturers: Volkswagen in Bratislava, Peugeot-Citroen in Trnava and Kia in Zilina. The auto industry accounts for almost 44 per cent of Slovakia’s GDP, and employs as many as 80,000 people. That number will increase next year when Jaguar Land Rover begins production at the new 1.4 billion euros plant it is constructing at Sered, close to Nitra.

Zhi Dou, best known for its electric D2 model, which has a range of 180 kilometres, entered the Slovak market in April 2017 when it opened two showrooms here. A further six have opened since.

The company was launched in 2011 and is currently undergoing huge expansion. It operates four assembly plants in China, putting together parts imported from the Netherlands. A new assembly facility is also currently being built in South Korea.