What happened to the project for a Chinese electric car factory in Emilia

What happened to the project for a Chinese electric car factory in Emilia

Electric cars represent the future of one of the most important industries in the European economy and the race to electrification of motor vehicles is already a reality in many countries of the continent. For this reason, when a year and a half ago the American Silk EV and the Chinese Faw had launched a joint project to start the production of luxury electric cars in Reggio Emilia, the news had met with great favor. The promise made to the land of motors, which gave birth to many of the most famous car manufacturers in Italy, risks turning into a bad nightmare.

The joint venture between the Chinese car giant and the US engineering firm, based in Reggio Emilia itself, had announced its project at the beginning of 2021. The original goal of the Sino-US company was to establish a new production plant in the hamlet of Gavassa, where to produce the cars of premium range of Hongqi, a subsidiary of Faw and historic Chinese brand known for producing the representative cars used by the leaders of the Communist Party of Beijing since the 1950s.

In particular, in 2023 the Emilian plant should have started production of the Hongqi S9, a 1400 HP hybrid hypercar whose list price should exceed 2 million euros. Alongside a few hundred examples of the S9, however, the Gavassa plant should also churn out the premium all-electric model of the S7, both in SUV and coupé versions, for an estimated production of around 6,000-7,000 vehicles per year. Next to the assembly line, then, a research and development section should be built. This is an investment of over one billion euros, which should guarantee around a thousand new jobs.

China increases sales of electric cars in Europe Among the electric vehicles of national brands and the vehicles produced in Asia by the giants of the old continent, the Dragon is consolidating its leadership in the mobility of the future. With risks on the industrial strength of the European automotive sector Shadows on the project However, the conditional is a must, given the doubts and uncertainties that are arising around the project. So many and such that even the enthusiastic president of the region Stefano Bonaccini has begun to change his tone a few months ago, as noted by Gabriele Carrer in Formiche. “Silk-Faw and its partners show they can move forward as they promised. Not everything is in place yet and we, for now, have not disbursed a euro of public funds ”, he said in May. Starting from the land on which the complex should be built, the story is in fact taking on unclear connotations.

The land where the Gavassa plant should be built has been identified for some time. This is an area of ​​320 thousand square meters whose acquisition has not yet been completed. The deed was originally scheduled for August 5, with the foundation stone laying ceremony to be held on September 5. After months of hesitation, in July the regional councilor for economic development Vincenzo Colla had summoned the managers of the company, in what had been interpreted as a sort of ultimatum. After the meeting Silk-Faw had announced the timing for the acquisition of the land but the date of 5 August has come and gone. There was therefore talk of after August, but for now it does not seem that there has yet been a black-and-white mass. As reported by the Resto del Carlino, the owners of the land did not worry too much after the postponement of the deed. "We are calm, we have obtained reassurances and guarantees that we will soon meet and sign the agreement. This time they seem to be more than just words in the wind, ”said one of them.

But the mystery does not end there. In recent days, several rumors have emerged in local newspapers, according to which Silk-Faw is not paying either the salaries or the rents of the premises it has borrowed. In recent days, 17 employees already currently working in design and marketing have resorted to legal action putting the Sino-US company in arrears, since the salaries of the past months have not yet been paid: we are talking about a figure of 100,000 euros . As reported by Reggio Sera, the CEO of the company Giovanni Lamorte would have asked them to suspend the lawsuit so as not to make the company go bankrupt even before its birth. However, this would not be the only staffing problem that Silk-Faw is facing: in recent months, several executives have already abandoned the ship.

The issue of temporarily rented offices also casts a dark shadow on the each other. According to when reported by the municipal councilor of the 5 Star Movement Paola Soragni, Silk-Faw would have rented two spaces at the Tecnopolo from Stu Reggiane (a company 70% owned by the municipality of Reggio Emilia): one owned, the other his once leased and sublet to the Sino-US company. According to the documents, the last quarter would not have been paid.

A Chinese company has overtaken Tesla in electric car sales With 641,000 vehicles sold in the first half of 2022, BYD has outclassed Tesla by about 100,000 units, ousting Elon Musk's company from a hitherto undisputed record. investigations by the Prosecutor's Office The judiciary has also moved on the matter, with the Reggio Emilia Prosecutor's Office which in recent days has opened a file to investigate the continuous slippage of the operation. As reported by the Gazzetta di Reggio, the authorities will carry out tax assessments. A very delicate task on which the utmost confidentiality will be required given the sensitivity of the issue, which still involves one of the most important recent investments in the region. On July 19, Gianluca Vinci, lawyer and lawyer from Reggio Emilia of the Brothers of Italy, had asked for judicial intervention. "Electric cars represent the future and really need to be built, but still in Gavassa we don't see that a field with grass, although for a year and a half the company has continued to say that everything is fine and that we will proceed with the purchase. of the area and the construction of warehouses, hotels and commercial towers. There is a lot of public and private money at stake: the time has come to clarify ", Vinci wrote in an exposé.

In short, the promise to launch Emilia in the future of electric car is slowly showing very big problems. One of the employees, who gave an anonymous interview to Resto del Carlino, revealed some worrying details: "In February, Jonathan Krane (president of the joint venture, ed) arrived and explained the project to us only in words. Without even a slide ... And then he set the goal of making an electric car in two years. I worked in a large company that, despite a productive firepower, took 5 years to develop a hybrid. And there are already few ... I said to myself: either containers of money arrive here or I see it hard ”. Moreover, from China, no one would ever show up. While Cristian Sesena, head of the Reggio Emilia CGIL, reminds Corriere di Bologna that the last meeting with the Sino-US company dates back to last November. After that, silence.

Silk-Faw promised a lot to Emilia, which was ready to contribute to the company by making its knowledge and resources available. Some are beginning to suspect that the company is an unscrupulous move. The date of September 5th is approaching very fast. Who knows if some answers will come.

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