The Walloon Region and Chinese car builders Thunder Power have clinched a deal worth 175 million euros. Thunder Power will use the former Caterpillar plant near Charleroi to manufacture electric cars for the European market. The deal would create 350 new jobs in a first phase.
Two years ago, the American multinational Caterpillar announced it would close its plant in Charleroi, shedding some 2,000 jobs. A heavy blow for the Charleroi area, which is already battling unemployment woes. But now there is good news. After months of negotiations, the Walloon Region and Chinese investors have struck a deal. Wallonia got the better of a number of competitors, including Catalonia.
The Charleroi plant will manufacture the model “Chloé”, a city car boasting an autonomy of 300 kilometres. The production for Europe will be an exclusive privilege for Charleroi, it was announced.
The first cars should be ready by 2020. In a first phase, Charleroi will only build the cars: the production of the car parts will be done elsewhere. The investment will bring some 350 jobs in a first phase, possibly climbing to 2,000 in the longer run, after Thunder Power will have moved its research centre from Milan to Charleroi.