Basque Government supports production of electric vans at Mercedes-Benz in Vitoria
A recent agreement between the Basque regional government and Mercedes-Benz is designed to promote the construction of electric vehicles in the region. Under the agreement, the Mercedes factory in Vitoria should be fully adapted to make electric vehicles by 4Q 2010, with the company investing something like €15 million at the factory.
Describing the agreement as "an excellent piece of news", regional president Patxi López said the initiative showed that the Basque automotive industry "was ready" to make the effort needed for competitiveness. López reckoned the best solution to the crisis was to improve "business competitive capabilities" through projects like the one introduced at the Mercedes factory in Vitoria.
The agreement was signed by regional Industry & Innovation minister Bernabé Unda and the Director General for Mercedes-Benz Spain industrial centres, Emilio Titos, in the presence of regional president López, who explained that the government's decision to support this type of initiative was part of its bid for innovation, sustainability and the fight against climate change. Under the agreement, the regional government would be working with Mercedes-Benz through its research and development and innovation programmes, which could provide up to 40 per cent of the planned investment. MB Vitoria will be manufacturing a van with an electric engine and battery with autonomy of 130 km.
Both the agreement between the regional government and Mercedes Benz and the projects envisaged therein are part of the global strategy designed by the Basque regional government Department of Industry, Innovation, Trade & Tourism to promote the introduction of electric vehicles in the region. On 29 October the regional Basque government signed an agreement with Repsol about cooperating on the creation of an electric vehicle battery recharge network.
Under the new agreement, Mercedes will be cooperating "actively" with the Basque automotive component industry on projects relating to electric vehicles, said regional minister Unda. The agreement also provides for a pilot project with the goal of adding electric vehicles to transport fleets in the Basque Country.
Comprising some 300 firms, the region's automotive industry bills upwards of €10 thousand million. The regional industry employs 40,000-plus people in the Basque Country itself and 20,000 people elsewhere.