A Hungarian Town Is About to Become the Heart of Europe’s EV Battery Industry

Things aren't all sunshine and roses in Debrecen, though, with Chinese money and ecological concerns looming large in residents' minds.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
A factory worker pushes a cart of battery cells.
Battery business is big business, but is it going to be good for a small Hungarian town?
Photo: xPACIFICA (Getty Images)

Electric vehicle battery production is an increasingly big business, with China and the United States leading the industry. Still, to not get left behind, Europe has been investing in production, and now there’s an unlikely hot spot for battery production, according to a report published Monday by Financial Times.

That hot spot is a quiet town called Debrecen, and it sits in eastern Hungary, around two and a half hours from Budapest. It was the home of a Soviet-era airbase and a few farms, but now it’s being targeted by several vehicle manufacturers and their battery partners for huge new production facilities, with much of the development being funded by the Chinese.

That last bit has several organizations in the EU concerned, but locals on the ground in Debrecen have more immediate concerns with these new huge factories, and that’s their ecological impact. Debrecen is an unusual choice for major industrial facilities because it’s not especially close to any large natural waterways. This means that industrial water usage could dramatically impact residents’ quality of life.

Advertisement

The whole report by Financial Times is a long one, but if you’re interested in looking behind the curtain at the burgeoning electric car industry and understanding its impact both on transportation and also from a geopolitical and environmental standpoint, it’s well worth a read.