The city of Kutaisi in Georgia hopes to put itself at the forefront of global automobile production with the opening of an electric car factory that plans to produce 40,000 vehicles a year.
A construction memorandum was signed in May by the Georgian industrial holding AiGroup and Changan, a Chinese state-owned vehicle manufacturer. The Changan corporation is the largest electric car manufacturer in the world, and has partnerships with Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo, Mazda and Suzuki.
Georgia’s Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze, is enthusiastic about the project: “This factory will open a new chapter in our economic history. It will have a very positive influence on our economic structure, by creating more than 2,000 jobs and – at the same time – will help us to increase our export potential.”
The plant will be the first of its kind not only in Georgia but the entire South Caucasus region, and will sit on 100 hectares of land on the outskirts of Kutaisi. In addition to the manufacturing plant, it will comprise facilities for painting, welding and the construction of solar panels.
Initially the factory will contract 300 workers, with a view to producing 5,000 cars in the first 18 months. This will increase over time, with future plans to provide 20,000 cars to the domestic market and export another 20,000 to the European Union.
The green economy
The AiGroup is groundbreaking in the region for its environmentally friendly initiatives, and its various arms – AiCar, AiEnergy, AiPower and AiProduction – are responsible for, respectively, car sharing; charging stations; solar panels and power stations; and electric vehicles.
This focus on green projects has won the group a lot of support in the region, along with partial state-funding for the Kutaisi factory.
The Prime Minister emphasised that “The green economy concept will be a driving force of the national economy,” while Minister of the Economy Natia Turnava said “The project is unique for us, and makes Georgia a pioneer in the region in terms of production of eco-friendly green technologies and electric vehicles.”
She also spoke of Georgia’s wish to replace its car fleet over time with these new and environmentally friendly cars, which will be rolled out in tandem with an expanded car-sharing service and further installation of solar-powered charging points around the country.