German automotive supplier Eberspächer, which is among the global leaders in the production of climate control systems, will build a plant in the Bulgarian city of Ruse to meet a strong increase in demand in the European market. The facility will manufacture electrical heaters for traditional vehicles, as well as for hybrid, electrical, fuel-cell and hydrogen engines. The company plans to hire 500 people in Bulgaria in the next two years.
Eberspächer did not disclose the investment's value but said it had chosen a plot of some 80,000 sq. m. in the city's Slatina industrial zone, where it would build a plant of 21,000 sq. m. Property register data show that the company's local subsidiary, Eberspächer Bulgaria, purchased such a plot for 2.5 million levs (1.27 million euro) in late August. The company plans to have the plant completed by mid-September 2023.
In order to meet high demand, the company will start manufacturing operations from January 2023. That will happen in an interim production facility in Ruse, which will operate until the new building is ready. Markus Alles, director New Plants Global Operations at Eberspächer, told the Capital Weekly that the company had already signed a contract to rent about 6,000 sq. m of space for that purpose.
When production starts, the team in Ruse will have around 150 employees but in the coming years the staff will grow up to 500, the company said. Eberspächer is already actively hiring and unlike most investors, Alles is quite enthusiastic about the labor market in Bulgaria. "People here are really ready to walk an extra mile - and that is very encouraging for a manager, besides all financial considerations," he told the Capital. The very good transport connections were also an important factor for the company choosing Ruse as the location for its new plant.
"Newly won orders with start of production in the next years and a strong increase in demand for electrical heaters have driven the expansion of our production capacities," the company said in a news release. Therefore the production of heaters and climate control systems will be at the basis of the Ruse plant's operations.
At the beginning the new facility will manufacture more traditional low-voltage heaters, which are used in gas and diesel engines. The trend of the future however are the heating and cooling systems, Alles explained, adding the R&D teams of the group are currently working on such solutions: the so-called high-voltage systems (500 Volts). Such products will be gradually added to the product list of the plant in Ruse.
Besides heaters and climate control systems, the new facility will also manufacture electronic control units, which is another of Eberspächer's divisions. These include accompanying control systems for electrical and hybrid vehicles, Alles said. An area of some 2,000 sq. m will be allocated for that purpose in the future plant.
Eberspächer is a family business set up in 1865, which today employs more than 10,000 people in 80 locations worldwide. Its revenue totaled nearly 6 billion euro in 2021 (up from 4.9 billion euro in 2020), and EBITDA stood at 184.2 million euro.