Robots will take up a big portion of work when the factory of CATL (宁德时代) , the world’s largest EV power battery producer by installation, in Hungary is completed and begins production in 2025, Hungarian media reported recently.
According to media reports, construction of the plant, located in the northeastern Hungarian city of Debrecen, will get underway in summer this year and operate on a trial run next year.
In the beginning, the factory, which is expected to supply battery packs for 30 EV producers in Europe, will be staffed mainly by Chinese workers who use robotics to manufacture the products.
“The plant in Debrecen will help us cope with the challenge of meeting growing demand in the European markets, optimize our global production network and accelerate EV adoption and Europe’s transition to new sources energy,” Fred Zhang, a communications manager of CATL, was quoted as saying.
When completed, the factory will churn out lithium-ion batteries, especially battery cells and modules, he added.
However, critics have pointed to the fact that CATL will revert to the old ways of Chinese firms doing business abroad — importing labor from China to fill mangerial roles in its overseas operation.
Chinese firms, especially state-owned enterprises involved in infrastructure, have long fueled resentment over the practice to employ Chinese workers to staff overseas factories, instead of hiring locally.
Zhang countered the claims, saying that in the initial phase of the plant’s production, CATL does need to bring in skilled technicians from its home market to oversee the manufacturing process, undertaken mostly by robots.
But he added the company hopes to one day fill some 9,000 headcounts at this plant with locals, in line with Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto’s expectations for CATL to create jobs for the country.