German car maker Daimler will begin serial production of the EQB electric model in Hungary in the fourth quarter of 2021 after investment of more than 100 million euro ($122 million) investment, factory director Christian Wolff said on Monday.
The compact SUV vehicle will be the first fully electric car produced in Hungary, whose economy is dependent on car manufacturing, with German luxury brands Daimler, BMW and Audi all building or expanding manufacturing capacity in the country.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on his Facebook page that the government had contributed 15 billion forints ($52 million) to the investment to secure the 4,400 jobs Daimler has filled in the central Hungarian town of Kecskemet.
Hungary's economy imploded in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, falling by an annual 13.6% in the second quarter. The government expects a 5-6% fall in 2020 before a modest rebound in 2021.
Daimler rival BMW said earlier this year that its new factory, under construction near the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen, will be delayed by a few months due to the pandemic. BMW also plans to produce fully electric vehicles in Hungary.
In the summer, analysts expected the auto industry, long a driver of economic growth in central Europe, to be one of the main drags as the region recovers from COVID-19.
Several major battery makers established production units in Hungary, as in other countries in Europe, as the world prepares for the era of electric vehicles.
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