South Korea’s Ecopro starts nickel cathode plant construction in Hungary’s growing into e-mobility hotspot

South Korean battery materials producer Ecopro BM announced on Friday March 21 that construction works have started for its nickel cathode manufacturing plant in Debrecen, Hungary

For Ecopro’s first overseas plant, the facility will use the company’s pioneer nickel-based cathode technology and is expected to have an annual capacity of 108,000 tonnes of cathode material for electric vehicle (EV) lithium-ion batteries.

The $801.69 million project was originally announced in December 2021 and all the necessary permissions have been granted.

Debrecen is becoming an attractive e-mobility technology hotspot, with a number of companies committing to investments in the area related to the unfolding energy transition and the EU propelling the development of localized supply chains to reach its e-mobility goals over the next decade.

The city is centrally located in Europe, in proximity to a number of car manufacturers’ plants, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Stellantis and Volkswagen.

In August 2022, Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (CATL) announced it will invest $8.08 billion to build a 100 GWh battery plant in Debrecen, following its first battery plant in Europe, located in Germany.

In June 2022, construction works also started for BMW’s $1.1 billion EV plant in Debrecen, due to become operational in 2025.

One factor supporting hefty investments in the Hungarian e-mobility ecosystem is one of the lowest taxes on labor, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said in a speech last year.

More than 10 million EVs were sold worldwide in 2022, IEA data showed and sales are expected to grow by another 35% in 2023 to reach 14 million units.

This sustained growth means EVs’ share of the overall car market has risen from around 4% in 2020 to 14% in 2022, and is set to increase to 18% this year, based on the latest IEA projections.

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