Chinese EV to Establish HQ in Belgium

Author: Benelux Chamber Shanghai


Windrose, the Chinese builder of electric trucks, has announced the establishment of its European headquarters and first workshop in Zele, Belgium. This strategic move is seen as a start to later on constructing an assembly plant for e-trucks in the port of Antwerp, which could potentially generate up to 3000 jobs.

Despite the recent turmoil in the Belgian transportation industry, highlighted by the bankruptcy of Van Hool, the recent challenges faced by Audi Brussels, and a bleak economic outlook from the VBO organization, there is a growing possibility that a new truck factory might come to Flanders.

Windrose, a promising two-year-old Chinese start-up, has developed an innovative electric truck. Until now, these trucks have been assembled in China by established manufacturers. In late April, the company established a Belgian subsidiary, endowed with a start-up capital of 61500 euros. This subsidiary now hosts Windrose's first European facility.

The establishment of the headquarters and workshop in Zele marks the first phase of Windrose’s strategic roadmap, laying the foundation for future expansion. This operational base, located on the premises of transport company Gilbert De Clercq, includes both office and workshop spaces.

One of the primary motivations behind Chinese EV manufacturers' expansion into the European market is the slowing demand for electric vehicles within China, which has exacerbated overcapacity issues. This shift is reflected in the substantial increase in Chinese new energy vehicle shipments to the EU, with a remarkable 112% year-on-year growth in the first seven months of 2023 and a staggering 361% increase since 2021. Uncertain of what 2024 will bring, under the EU's decision to slam extra import duties on Chinese-built EV's, the EV's are expected to grow their presence in the EU's car market.


The price competitiveness of Chinese-made EVs is another significant factor. According to the European Commission, EVs manufactured in China are typically priced approximately 20% lower than their European-made counterparts. This price competitiveness has also led to the emergence of industry giants like CATL and BYD, with the latter surpassing Volkswagen as China's best-selling car brand in recent years.

Discussions with various governmental bodies are in full swing regarding the establishment of the truck factory. Both PMV and SFPIM, the investment arms of the Flemish and federal governments respectively, are involved in these talks. Sources close to the matter indicate that PMV is still conducting its analysis.

In mid-May, Han expressed his expectation of reaching an agreement within a month. To bolster his ambitions, Windrose became the name sponsor of the Antwerp Giants basketball club, replacing Telenet for five years starting July 1st. The financial details of this sponsorship remain undisclosed.

Windrose's CEO Wen Han has pledged to offer their electric trucks for around 230,000 euros, approximately half the cost of electric trucks produced by European manufacturers. Han has been actively seeking a location for an assembly plant in Europe, with a particular focus on Antwerp. The proposed site aims to produce 10,000 e-trucks annually by 2027, generating around 3,000 jobs and involving an investment of 300 million euros. Additionally, Han hopes to establish a battery factory in France.

To fund these ambitious plans, Han is relying on the 110 million dollars raised in a first funding round last year, with contributions from the British-Asian banking giant HSBC and several Chinese funds. Han also anticipates raising additional funds through a stock market listing, preferably before the end of this year.

Windrose’s electric trucks are designed to travel at least 670 kilometres on a full battery, making them competitive with traditional diesel trucks in Europe in terms of driving and rest times. The company has already attracted significant interest from major logistics firms, with orders placed for Windrose trucks. This month, Decathlon is expected to start using Windrose trucks to supply its Chinese stores, marking a significant step in Windrose’s expansion.


Sources: De Tijd, Benelux Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.