The installation of the Volkswagen battery cell gigafactory in Sagunto is a “great opportunity” to strengthen economic, commercial and tourist ties between the Valencian Community and the rich German state of Lower Saxony, where the multinational has its headquarters in the city of Wolfsburg. The president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, has proposed this Tuesday in Hannover to establish the first direct air route between the Valencian Community and Lower Saxony, specifically between Castellón and the capital of this German state, to take advantage of the possibilities offered by the new factory, which should come into operation in 2026, in order to increase the number of German tourists.
Puig has held meetings with the directors of the important tour operator TUI, whose headquarters are located in Hannover, and with the president of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil. On Monday he held a meeting with Frank Klingebiel, mayor of Salzgitter, the city where the first gigafactory to be built by PowerCo, a subsidiary of the second largest car manufacturer in the world, is located.
In the meetings, the will to increase connectivity with the German region, with close to eight million inhabitants, representing 10% of the German tourists that the Valencian Community receives, has been put on the table, as explained by the president, after meet TUI Group CEO Sebastian Ebel and TUI Group Director of Corporate and External Relations Thomas Ellerbeck.
Specifically, what the Generalitat is proposing is a direct “Hannover-Castelló” route, an airport that is managed by the regional administration, some 35 kilometers from Sagunto, and that “allows for commercial operations” and “can be profitable for the Community as a whole”. “That does not mean that direct flights can also be produced in Alicante because it has a very large tourist dimension”, he pointed out.
The direct route between Castellón and Valencia was first proposed to meet the need for workers and managers to travel from Germany, once Volkswagen’s investment of more than 3,000 million euros for the construction of the gigafactory was confirmed, which will generate around 15,000 jobs between direct and indirect, according to forecasts.
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The gigafactory is the star project of the Generalitat, governed by the socialists, Compromís and Unides Podem. The Valencian Government wants to take advantage of the investment to advance in the change of the economic model towards electrification, since Ford has announced that its Almussafes plant will manufacture its future electric vehicles. The creation of an industrial park of suppliers around the factory and a specialization that will also entail a series of educational demands to provide future professionals for the factory and its environment are foreseen.
In this sense, the Generalitat has started the purchase process for 2.3 million euros of a plot of almost 16,000 square meters in Parc Sagunt I for the construction of the Vocational Training center, called Campus Battery, in which the professionals of the future gigafactory. It will have about 400 places for training in the fields of electricity and electronics, installation, maintenance and chemistry.
In addition, other business possibilities are opening up as the obligatory installation of renewable energies progresses. The CEO of PowerCo, Frank Blome, has recognized that he is also considering manufacturing batteries in Sagunto for other sectors: “The cells are suitable for cars, but also for storing energy and it is a segment that is fixed.” The cell manufacturing technique for electric vehicle batteries is the same as that for stationary batteries for renewable energy storage – an “extremely interesting segment” for the company, he added. The multinational does not rule out, in addition, serving batteries for the Ford plant in Almussafes.