Green light and 150 million for Chinese car factory in Gosselies
On Wednesday the board of directors of the Walloon investment fund Sogepa agreed to invest 150 million euro in the creation of ‘Thunder Power Belgium’ that is to build 2.000 Chinese electric cars to start with at the former site of Caterpillar in Gosselies. That is, if the Chinese manufacturer accepts the final binding offer before the 15th of July.
Negotiations with Thunder Power Co Ltd. from Hong Kong are going on for some months now and are in it’s final stage. There is still a chance the Chinese opt at the last moment to go elsewhere in Europe, as they already have an R&D centre in Italy and they signed earlier a declaration of intent with the Spanish region of Catalonia.
Former Caterpillar site
In Gosselies the Chinese manufacturer would use some three-quarters of the 100 hectare of the former site of American bulldozer manufacturer, Caterpillar, which announced its closure in September 2016, putting 2.300 employees without a job.
Thunder Power that is headquartered in Hong Kong, but has R&D and a production factory in Chanzu (China), would like to set up a third R&D centre at its Belgian site, next to a production facility that would start to roll out its first 2.000 cars by 2020 with some 650 employees.
Goal is to build 50.000 cars a year by 2025. Although it hasn’t homologated its cars for Europe yet, it showed already its Tesla S-like electric model TP-488c for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015 with a 125 kWh battery offering an autonomy of 650 km.
Price of 63.000 US dollar
Prices would be situated around 434.000 yuan (63.000 US dollar) in China, where the car can be pre-ordered online. Production at the Chinese factory in Chanzu will start in the fourth quarter of this year.
The Chinese manufacturer wants to commercialize its sedan by 2019, followed by a full electric premium SUV in 2020. This would be a competitor for the Tesla X, but also for the Audi e-tron, which is built in the Audi factory in Brussels.