Inicio EV Feature: Chinese EV brand eyes growth, integration in Hungary

Feature: Chinese EV brand eyes growth, integration in Hungary

Feature: Chinese EV brand eyes growth, integration in Hungary

This photo taken on March 18, 2024 shows a view of the NIO Power Europe Plant in Biatorbagy, Hungary. (Xinhua/Zhang Fan)

NIO is committed to integrating into Europe’s sustainability ecosystem, aligning with the continent’s green transition goals.

by Geza Molnar

BIATORBAGY, Hungary, April 9 (Xinhua) — In the scenic rural town of Biatorbagy, not far from Budapest, Tibor Soregi’s vehicle stands out more than most. He is one of the first Hungarians to adopt a state-of-the-art Chinese-made electric vehicle (EV).

While an electric vehicle is nothing new in Hungary, the badge on the front of Soregi’s new car, at least for now, may not be familiar to many local residents.

However, owning a futuristic EV manufactured by Chinese brand NIO, Soregi enjoys his car even before the model is officially available for sale in Hungary.

NIO Power Europe has established its first overseas charging point manufacturing facility in Biatorbagy, spanning an impressive 10,000 square meters. Soregi serves as the head of this plant.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, the executive spoke highly of NIO’s line of new EVs, as well as its state-of-the-art power swap battery technology.

Unlike other electric car manufacturers, NIO’s EVs differ in their approach to recharging. The company offers charging stations which allow vehicle owners to swap depleted batteries automatically through a fully automated system. It now operates more than 2,300 of these battery swap stations across the globe.

This photo taken on March 18, 2024 shows the exterior view of the NIO Power Europe Plant in Biatorbagy, Hungary. (Xinhua/Zhang Fan)

Serving as NIO’s European center for manufacturing, services and research and development for new electric technologies, the NIO Power Europe plant rolled out its first battery swap station in September 2022. Since then, NIO has established a hub in Hungary, contributing to local economic development and technological innovation.

SEEKING GROWTH THROUGH INTEGRATION, INNOVATION

Soregi said NIO is committed to integrating into Europe’s sustainability ecosystem, aligning with the continent’s green transition goals. The European Union will ban the sale of internal combustion vehicles from 2035, increasing the need for sustainable automotive solutions.

NIO’s Hungarian operation employs nearly 100 local professionals and was honored with the Award for Innovative Product Investment by the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) in March 2023.

Today, Soregi oversees a bustling production line in the workshop. The facility, capable of producing nine power swap stations simultaneously, features efficiency and technological advancement.

The battery-swap stations are like small cabins that easily accommodate a full-size SUV, Soregi explained. «One of the advantages of this factory is its crane system installed on the ceiling, which facilitates the moving of the heavy parts from different locations.»

This hands-on approach to innovation is further complemented by the factory’s role in cutting logistical costs and streamlining NIO’s supply chain, Soregi said.

A NIO electric car is seen in a battery swap station during a ceremony of the shipment of the first battery swap station produced by the NIO Power Europe Plant in Biatorbagy, Hungary, on Sept. 16, 2022. (Photo by Attila Volgyi/Xinhua)

Zhang Hui, vice president of NIO Europe, stressed the company’s integration strategy. «Our approach has consistently focused on developing local suppliers and integrating the local supply chain.»

He said the factory in Hungary is a standard specification for NIO’s «unified global layout and local operation.» «It improves European users’ experience and equips us with strategic leadership skills for further overseas manufacturing in the future.»

Szabolcs Zvara, a Hungarian expert in the auto industry, applauded the Chinese brands’ arrival in Europe. «Chinese electric vehicles, such as NIO, BYD and MG, are not only filling up market gaps but are redefining the landscape of the European auto industry as well through innovative technologies and competitive pricing.»

He praised NIO’s pioneering battery-swapping technology, which produces high-quality batteries at lower costs, consequently making electric vehicles more affordable.

HIPA’s chief Istvan Joo said Hungary as a «connector state» between Eastern and Western technologies aims to deepen economic ties with the East, particularly China.

«China represents the most modern technology, so we count on further Chinese investments,» Joo said.

Staff members work at the NIO Power Europe Plant in Biatorbagy, Hungary, March 18, 2024. (Xinhua/Zhang Fan)