Saturday, April 1, 2023

After Nissan, the era of the Free Trade Zone begins with the promise of 1,000 jobs by 2024

The ‘post Nissan’ era in the Free Trade Zone begins with the promise of 1,000 jobs by 2024RICARD CUGAT

More than a thousand and one nights -specifically 1,019- have passed since Nissan informed its workers that it was closing its factories in Catalonia and that its successor had been formally appointed. Two years, nine months and 13 days of “uncertainty and despair”, according to the employees affected by the movement, since the Japanese firm started the movement, which will ask for up to 2,500 direct jobs and the company D-Hub wrote its future land in the Free Zone. Under the promise of employing more than 1,000 of these workers in 2024 and generating industrial capacity that will allow the group to produce some 70,000 electric motor vehicles by 2026. “Now everything that is on paper has to be done,” summed up the president of the Consorcio de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, ​​Pere Navarro.

This Monday at the headquarters of the consortium, the owner of the land, which until now has been occupied by Nissan, met the highest authorities involved in reindustrialization. The Minister of Industry, Reyes Maroto, was present in what was probably one of his last acts before leaving office and was placed in favor of a greater petition in Madrid. Also, the councilor of Business, Roger Torrent, the minister of economy, Natàlia Mas, the president of Nissan Spain, Frank Torres, the representative of the union and the president of the CZFB, Pere Navarro; among others

The phrase “historic day” is frequented by the audience, which this Tuesday marked the closing of the search for a successor to Nissan. The D-Hub was not the first choice, nor was it the most desired, and doubts loomed over it about its solution and its ability to provide all the services that no one denies. “Fortunately, we have completed a process that was not easy,” Torrent acknowledged. Of the 17 candidates who were formally nominated to fill the 517,000 square meters left by Nissan, it was the D-Hub that took the lead.

The Minister of Commerce, Roger Torrent (left), the Minister of Industry, Reyes Maroto (center) and the president of CZFB, Pere Navarro (right); in the signing of the protocol for the reinstatement of the Free Zone.

Doubts about the solution of the new project

And D-Hub was born from the partnership between two Catalan consultancies, QEV and Btech, which between the two in 2021 added a total turnover of 22.7 million euros and 200 employees on the payroll, according to the most recent data published. of the register of merchants. They are now preparing to set up the first large electric vehicle factory in Catalonia, with forecasts to hire more than a thousand employees by 2024 and to produce a maximum capacity – three times – of 18,000 vehicles per year. His partnership with Australian real estate investor Goodman was key to granting them a minimum payout.

“I want to thank the management”, the CEO of D-Hub, Joan Orús, declared before the press. And it happened, that the bar could start from the public process “big”, as he acknowledged. He received 65,000 in cash from the Government, within the framework of the electric car share and the previous investment commitment on his part more than doubled. Here D-Hub has lost part of the public funds due to the banks working on subscriptions.

And to this injection by European funds, the guarantees of the Institut Català de Finances (ICF) were added, wanting to cover part of the obligations contracted by D-Hub with public resources so that the fulfillment does not end. The amount of money did not exist and those involved – both the Generalitat and the Company – are hiding behind ‘banking trusts’. Today’s economic adviser and head of the ICF, Natalia Mas, previously director general of Industry and one of the main supporters of the D-Hub option during the negotiation process.

The new factory starts in 2014

Given that this Monday marks the start of Nissan’s reinstriation, D-Hub must now begin the commitments it has made to secure the firm’s said land. It was publicly owned, close to the city of Barcelona, ​​well connected to the port and sought after by the logistics industry. This same month, the company states that it will hire some 25 people for the process of reconditioning the land and the machinery and other assets that Nissan has left.

The operation of transferring the assets from Nissan to D-Hub has been established for a “sedentary” amount, according to what they say from the second, although the amount exceeds 30 million dollars and it is added that Nissan retains a percentage. the sales of each vehicle in the Free Zone have been met in the last seven years. The idea expressed by the CEO, Joan Orús, should have a minimum of 600 employees to open factories at the beginning of 2024 and start 2025 with 1,000 workers.

D-Hub plans to produce its own line of electric vehicles, the zeroid range of vans designed by the delivery of the thousandth -, in addition to the vehicles of the brand refunding Hiberi and those that other companies intend to assemble to their facilities. The medium term objective is that 60% of the vehicles assembled in the Free Trade Zone are from these two brands and the remaining 40% from the companies that order them to produce models there. To sell them, Orús explained that he is already in talks with the first 50 businessmen to put their products there.

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