Romania battles for chip and battery sites as global crisis deepens

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Romania intends to host production sites for electric car batteries and semiconductors in the near future by exploiting its mineral resources and accessing European Union funds to attract investors struggling with tangled supply chains, said Economy Minister Florin Spataru.

The government is in talks with several foreign investors who plan to build new battery factories in Eastern Europe. Romania, whose less developed transport infrastructure can be balanced by a higher degree of energy independence and access to rare earth metals used in batteries, is a suitable location, Spataru said in an interview.

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“We are in close contact with several investors and helping them find the best options and potential locations for them,” he said in Bucharest on Thursday. “I am convinced that Romania will be on the map with an electric battery factory.” He declined to give further details.

Major automakers’ search for new sites to house battery factories comes as China’s Covid-19 shutdowns and Russia’s war on Ukraine halt supply chains, even as countries s are committed to weaning themselves off fossil fuels with plans that include a switch to electric vehicles.

Countries in the eastern wing of the European Union, which attracted foreign car factories at the turn of the century with their low costs, educated workers and history of heavy industry, are now vying for battery production sites that will be crucial for mass production. EVs.

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Volkswagen AG recently chose Spain for a 7 billion euro ($7.7 billion) battery factory, but still wants to add more production units across Europe as part of its expansion plan. investment of approximately 52 billion euros over the next five years in electric vehicles.

Romania also plans to use 500 million euros of EU funds to support research, innovation and production of microchips, according to Spataru. It will also ask Brussels to help it reopen mothballed mines containing copper, tin and bauxite.

“For many years Romania has not responded to this push for change, but right now we have a strong government and a strong coalition that is committed to transforming the economy and our industry,” Spataru said.

He also said Romania was in the running to host at least 20 companies that are currently scanning the market for possible relocation from Russia or Ukraine due to the war.

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