Three Nissan replacement candidates would save entire workforce

LG Chem and two electric car manufacturers, one of them American, would give work to all workers

3 min
The Nissan factory in the Free Trade Zone.

Of the 35 projects that, according to the unions, have neem put forward for the reindustrialisation of Nissan, 17 have already submitted all the required documentation to be candidates to occupy one of the three factories that the Japanese carmaker will leave in Catalonia. The reindustrialisation committee confirmed the information after meeting. At least three of these projects are of such a magnitude that they would occupy the entire factory that Nissan has in the Zona Franca in Barcelona (which at over 2,000 workers drew most of the workforce) and would give work to all the current workforce and could even expand it. These are the South Korean LG Chem, which wants to set up a battery production plant, and two electric vehicle companies, one of them American.

In fact, LG Chem was one of the first to show interest. The company's idea is to invest €1.6bn, over a third supplied by the State, to produce batteries for automobile companies established in Spain. Subsequently, it was the two electric vehicle companies that positioned themselves. The two would give work to over 1,500 people, which would be all those made redundant by Nissan's closure excepting those who will take early retirement. But the sources consulted do not specify whether or not these three options have submitted all the required paperwork. In addition to these three companies, there are other names that have applied to the Free Trade Zone, such as Inzile, which manufactures light electric vans and wants to build 5,000 vehicles per year and start producing in 2022; the manufacturer of electric motorcycles Silence, and electric car manufacturing companies both from Europe and Asia, as well as battery manufacturers.

The set of projects presented to the Free Trade Zone revolve around three main areas: battery manufacturers, electric vehicles and a hub integrated by a number of electric mobility companies. As for the other two factories, located in Montcada i Reixac and Sant Andreu de la Barca, proposals related to construction and industrial storage have been received. Among the projects is a construction company in which Catalan capital is invested, which manufactures housing in prefabricated modules for developing countries, especially in Africa. The company in question would like the Montcada facilities to produce the modules.

Work schedule

Both the reindustrialisation committee and the consulting firm KPMG do not rule out that before March 31, when the deadline for submitting proposals is scheduled to close, the number of candidate projects to occupy any of the Catalan plants of the Japanese multinational will increase. Once the deadline closes, KPMG will evaluate the proposals and, if necessary, may request more information from the companies. It will not be until June 1 that a working committee will select the projects that have met all the requirements, and in July the companies will have to submit their binding offers. A workforce will pick the best proposals, and only the chosen projects will enter the negotiation phase before October.

Thursday's meeting, which was held online, included the Spanish government's Secretary General of Industry and SMEs, Raül Blanco, and the Generalitat's Director General of Industry, Matilde Villarroya. Blanco said that the steps forward that have been taken in recent weeks with automotive projects can have a positive impact on Nissan's reindustrialisation. Among these steps is the first battery factory in Spain, recently announced by the Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, thanks to a public-private consortium formed by Seat (with its parent Volkswagen), energy company Iberdrola and the Spanish executive. The factory will be built "near Martorell", although the exact location is yet to be revealed. The Volkwagen group subsequently made the project conditional on European funds being made available.

The next meeting of the industrialisation committee will be on April 7, when the final number of candidates will be known. The schedule is tightening, because on December 31 the 2,500 current Nissan workers will be made redundant.