The Chinese government is investing in the construction of a huge industrial park called Neo Park in Hefei. An industrial cluster for intelligent electric vehicles will be created there, where hundreds of EV-related companies will be located.
The ‘Neo Park’ in the capital of Anhui province will have production capacities for one million electric cars and 100 GWh of batteries per year on an area of 11.3 square kilometres, as well as research and development facilities, according to Chinese media reports on the start of construction. More than 50,000 jobs are planned, including more than 10,000 in research and development. The initial investment is 50 billion yuan (about 6.4 billion euros).
China’s government is not alone in building the industry park, though. Nio is a major partner in the venture, and plans to set up an automobile manufacturing facility there. The industrial park is not being built in Anhui without reason: In February 2020, the carmaker signed a framework agreement with the city of Hefei and the Anhui region, which brought Nio commitments of more than ten billion yuan (about 1.3 billion euros). In return, the company committed to building factories and research centres in the city – the basis for Neo Park.
Previously, Nio planned to build its own factory in Shanghai or Beijing. However, these plans were later put on hold – probably for financial reasons. Until now, Nio’s vehicles have been built in a JAC factory in Hefei, which is also how the contact to Anhui came about. JAC is also a joint venture partner of Volkswagen. Since the German company took over the majority in the joint venture, JAC-Volkswagen has been operating under the new name Volkswagen Anhui. Only this week it was announced that VW started construction of its own MEB plant in Anhui.
The industrial park will cover the entire value chain for intelligent electric cars – from the development of software for autonomous driving, “innovative technologies for complete vehicles”, batteries and the construction of the vehicles themselves. The park is expected to reach a production value of 500 billion yuan (64 billion euros) per year.
In addition to the vehicles, Nio is also using the loans from Anhui to invest in the expansion of its infrastructure: in mid-April, the carmaker presented the second generation of its battery exchange station, which is supposed to be able to perform 312 battery changes per day. Only a few days later, Nio announced the “Power North Plan”, with which the necessary electric car infrastructure is to be created in the northern Chinese provinces within the next three years, including fast-charging stations, destination chargers and battery exchange stations.
Furthermore, Nio also announced the long-awaited launch in Europe in a blog entry. Similar to BYD, this will first take place in Norway. “This is Nio’s first foray into the highly competitive European market and a turning point for our global market strategy,” the company said. More details are expected to be available in early May.