Poland Taps Coal Region for First Electric Car Plant

Clouds of smoke are seen over Europe’s largest lignite coal power plant in Belchatow, Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AFP) — Poland’s first state-backed electric car plant is expected to begin production by 2024 in a region of the EU country that now relies heavily on coal mining for jobs, the ElectroMobility Poland (EMP) carmaker said on Thursday.

Lagging behind its smaller EU neighbors the Czech Republic and Slovakia in making electric vehicles, Poland presented its own SUV and hatchback prototypes earlier this year under the Izera brand name.

Meeting with local officials there, EMP’s president Piotr Zaremba said the plant would be built in Jaworzno, a mining town in the southern Silesian coal basin. 

With production to begin in three years, with a full target of 200,000 vehicles per year, the plant is expected to employ some 3,000 people while an additional 12,000 jobs will be created by suppliers and subcontractors.

The value of the investment in the new plant was not immediately clear but estimates have pegged the cost at some two billion zloty (450 million euro, $547 million), while the launching the Izera brand could take up to five billion zloty.

Climate and Environment Minister Michal Kurtyka, a key figure in Poland’s plan to transition away from coal, told local media the investment was “an important element in… creating permanent jobs,” in the region as it shifts away from coal.

Poland currently relies upon coal for around 80 percent of its electricity and the sector employs some 80,000 people, but the country plans to phase out its coal mines by 2049.

The move puts Poland within reach of meeting the European Union’s climate target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, something Warsaw had previously rejected arguing it needed more time to make the transition.

Poland’s populist Law and Justice (PiS) government has vowed to create new jobs in coal regions as mines are phased out.

Coal miners and their families are still a powerful voting bloc in the country of 38 million people.

Launched in 2016, EMP was formed by four Polish state-owned energy companies including PGE, Energa, Enea and Tauron Polska as part of moves to transition away from fossil fuels.


© Agence France-Presse

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