You have 10 free articles left this month. Get your freeBasic subscription now and gain instant access to more.

INTERVIEW - China's Cenntro to produce first “Made in Bulgaria” e-vehicle

Author Radomir Ralev
INTERVIEW - China's Cenntro to produce first “Made in Bulgaria” e-vehicle Author: Radomir Ralev

SOFIA (Bulgaria), September 18 (SeeNews) - Chinese manufacturer of electric vehicles Cenntro Automotive Corporation and its partner, Luxembourg-based SEVIC eMobility, plan to hire 250 to 300 employees at an electric utility vehicles factory they are developing in Bulgaria, a SEVIC official told SeeNews.

Cenntro and SEVIC eMobility intend to invest 10 million euro ($11.6 million) in the next three years and produce in Bulgaria 60% of the parts for the small electric utility vehicle they will assemble at the factory located in the Trakia Economic Zone, near the city of Plovdiv, Emil Yankov, business development director of Sevic Bulgaria, said in an interview with SeeNews.

In this way, the electric utility vehicle will have a “Made in Bulgaria” or “Made in EU” label and the manufacturer will receive the corresponding incentives, Yankov said.

Peter Wang, CEO of Cenntro Automotive Corporation, said in July that the two partners plan to make the factory a regional centre not just for the assembly of electric utility vehicles, but also for production of parts for them and their maintenance.

“Yes, we will invest 10 million euro, but we are still at the beginning,” Yankov said, adding that the investment was announced during the visit of China’s prime minister Li Keqiang to Bulgaria in July.

The project is carried out by SEVIC Bulgaria, part of SEVIC eMobility’s European division, which plans to complete the assembly of the first units of the electric utility vehicle by the end of this year, Yankov noted.

“The vehicle will be offered with different appliances – for the transport of refrigerated goods, for waste collection, for the cleaning of streets.”

The vehicle, with an engine capacity of 10 kW, has a height of 1.9 metres, a length of 3.7 metres and a width of 1.4 metres. It will have a cargo carrying capacity of 500 kg. The electric vehicle will not need a special charging station and can be plugged directly into the electricity network. It will be offered with a lead-zinc or a lithium-ion battery providing a driving range of 130 kilometres. The price of the vehicle with a lead-zinc battery will be 15,000 euro and with the lithium-ion battery it will stand at 18,000 euro.

“Currently, we are assembling it in partnership with a local [Bulgarain] company and in three years we will be able to make a product that will be entirely ours, and to make different components together with Bulgarian firms,” Yankov explained.

The goal of SEVIC eMobility is to generate more and more added value through the production of the electric utility vehicle, Yankov said.

“We will produce the chassis, plastics, carry out the injection moulding in Bulgaria in not too distant future.”

In Europe, SEVIC eMobility’s concept is to work with B2B customers and the company is currently in talks with a couple of global firms but it is too early to announce anything officially, he said.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is among the investors in Cenntro and will acquire this year about 20,000 of the company’s vehicles, which also offer an Internet of Things (IoT) service, to provide the last mile delivery logistics service, Yankov added.

Cenntro has partner assembly facilities in California and Texas, three local assembly facilities in Asia and one in the Netherlands. The company operates an automotive platform “Co-op” providing a full spectrum of electric vehicle technology, development, and supply chain service. The platform decentralises production and commercialisation of vehicles, working with local manufacturing through big data, and supply chain solutions to make innovative vehicles to the market more efficiently.

($ = 0.859788 euro)