China's Great Wall Motor definitively rules out replacing Nissan

Electromobility hub becomes the main candidate to take over Zona Franca plant

2 min
Protest march by Nissan workers last week.

The future of Nissan's plants has become considerably bleaker. ARA has learnt Chinese car manufacturer Great Wall Motor (GWM) has definitively left negotiations to take over the Zona Franca plant, which is to close in a few days. It is the largest plant and employs about 2,500 workers. The Chinese company has already communicated its decision, which will be made official at the committee for the reindustrialization of the Nissan plant this Monday afternoon.

The reindustrialization committee, which will decide who will take over the three plants Nissan will leave this December (Zona Franca in Barcelona, Montcada i Reixac and Sant Andreu de la Barca), still held a glimmer of hope that GWM, which was the favourite company for the Barcelona plant, would return to the negotiating table after the counteroffer made by the Spanish and Catalan governments a few days ago and that the Minister of Industry herself, Reyes Maroto, said that it had "improved" its offer in terms of public aid.

For the Chinese company, however, this counteroffer has been insufficient and it has decided to abandon the negotiations. The company had already started to backtrack at the end of November after visiting Nissan's facilities in Barcelona. GWM wanted more public aid arguing that the plant is insufficient to cover its production plans in Europe. The company changed its own plans from what it had initially announced, doubling its planned production from 150,000 to 300,000 vehicles per year.

In this situation, Nissan's reindustrialisation committee, formed by the Catalan and Spanish governments, Nissan and the unions, has no other solution than to implement plan B. That is, to split the plant and hand it over to several companies, including an electromobility hub, led by Catalan company QEV. Initially, the hub was to be sent to the plant in Sant Andreu de la Barca. Now it will share the Zona Franca factory with a logistics company. There are several companies in this field that have applied to join in recent weeks. Among them, the Australian real estate company Goodman, which provides logistics facilities and urban distribution for industry and "the development of flexible spaces and data centres that will strengthen the position of Barcelona as a city of reference in the field of 4.0 industry," according to a company statement. The Port of Barcelona and Merlin Properties, which have presented a project to create 4,000 workplaces with a development of logistics and industrial warehouses at the port service, have also joined.

The committee, which is scheduled to meet this Friday, will also have to decide who occupies the Sant Andreu de la Barca plant that is now free. The motorcycle manufacturer Silence will take over Montcada i Reixac plant.