Thuringia: 2018 Investment Highlights

December, 2018

The arrival of the Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL), one of the world’s leading battery cell manufacturers, which is constructing its first factory outside China at the industrial estate “Erfurter Kreuz”, south of state capital Erfurt, can certainly be celebrated as a major success for Thuringia as an investment location. CATL is one of the largest suppliers of lithium ion cells for the automotive industry. All the major German manufacturers purchase cells from the Chinese in order to configure them as battery packs for their electric cars. The important investment decision in favour of Thuringia catapults the Free State into the European premier league, as this will be the very first European production location for battery cells. CATL will be investing 240 million euros by 2022, thereby creating 600 new jobs; this could reach up to 1,000, particularly after the finalisation of further expansion steps. The main focus of the 14-gigawatt-hour-capacity factory will be on the automated production and intelligent manufacture of batteries. As well as production, research and development, quality control and high-quality services will play an important role. With this step, the global market leader is confirming its commitment to the European automotive market and exploiting the growth opportunities opening up in Europe and above all in Germany through electric vehicles. Thuringia’s central location, the excellent infrastructure at the location, the investment service, knowhow and knowledge through the availability of qualified workers and the multifarious research capacities are among the trump cards that convinced CATL and were ultimately decisive in the stiff international location competition.

Remarkable economic momentum, together with a large number of successful market and technology leaders, plus attractive and varied funding programmes for investments; the settlement of CATL underlines that Thuringia continues to be a sought-after location for numerous investors and companies from home and abroad in 2018, scoring with its outstanding  investment conditions. This is also not least down to successful business development. Many companies in Thuringia are writing true success stories with their innovative ideas, entrepreneurial skills and great commitment. At the heart of Germany, its outstanding infrastructure, location, smart people and superior research and academic landscape make Thuringia one of the top European locations. The approximately 50 new companies and company expansions since the start of the year underline the positive trend.

Latest success story at the “Erfurter Kreuz” industrial estate: Chinese battery manufacturer CATL will invest about €240m into its first European production site for battery cells. © LEG Thüringen

A look back at the 2018 investment highlights in Thuringia:

An investment project of the optics and electronics group Carl Zeiss AG is taking shape. The future head office of the globally operating technology group is due to be completed in Jena by 2023, thenceforth offering space for up to 2,500 employees. The building complex is to be erected on an 8-ha site. Investment in the company’s birthplace in Jena provides for a new construction costing nearly 300 million euros. A two-storey substructure is being created over 80,000 m² for offices, laboratories and production facilities.

A further proof of the attractiveness of Thuringia’s largest industrial park, Erfurter Kreuz, is the laying of the foundation stone and associated 90-million-euro investment by the furniture dealer XXXLutz. By 2022, 200,000 m² of storage area for a logistics centre will have been built on the 25-ha site over several construction phases. The project, through which more than 400 new jobs are to be created in two stages, is specifically aimed at expanding internet business.

Also expanding is the company CARLISLE Construction Material (CCM) GmbH, as the figures for the new production facility in Waltershausen alone make clear: a 50,000 m² plot area, 11,600 m² inside area and 42-million-euro investment budget for the new building and further expansion in the years to come. For the manufacturer of EPDM roof sealing strips, part of a US group, the expansion represents its largest European investment to date. A state-of-the-art plant, combining a large production hall, a logistics building with an annexe for administration and a training centre under one roof,  has come into being in the Waltershausen industrial park.

CARLISLE Construction Material (CCM) will invest €42m into its new production facility in Waltershausen. This is the company’s largest European investment to date. © CARLISLE

Somewhat further south, at the winter sports resort Oberhof in the Thuringian Forest, a further success story is currently initiating – for Thuringia as a tourist location. A new 4-star-plus premium family hotel will arise here under the Austrian brand Mayer Family Hotels with 120 rooms and 500 beds leading to investments of around 50 million euros in the location, thereby creating 140 new jobs.

Vivisol invests heavily in Thuringia

The Italian homecare company Vivisol combined its capacities at its Thuringian site in 2018: the specialist for medical-technological aids in the domestic field has already been located in the Free State for 15 years and opened a new administrative location in Arnstadt in September on a 12,000 m  plot. Approximately 2.5 million euros were invested in the project. The building offers a capacity of 130 workplaces that could perspectively be doubled. Vivisol supplies over 80,000 patients in Germany alone with medical-technological aids, including for oxygen therapy, home mechanical ventilation and aerosol therapy. The company is part of the Italian SOL Group.

The South African company Bell Equipment is also setting course for the future in Thuringia. The construction vehicle manufacturer is expanding at the “Kindel” industrial estate near Eisenach and investing around 13 million euros. The project will create 135 new jobs in the medium term.  Work on the major investment, which includes the construction of new workshops, a modern office and staff building and the equipping of the production facilities, began at the end of June with a symbolic ground-breaking.  The new building complex will house the manufacture of proprietary assemblies and vehicle components for the globally-marketed articulated dump truck.

Also in Eisenach, car manufacturer BMW remains on a robust growth path: by 2022 the BMW Group will have invested 42 million euros in its Thuringian factory, thereby doubling the production area and increasing its workforce by 20 percent. The investment and the expansion of the factory ensure the long-term competitiveness of the location and will make Eisenach the largest tool manufacture location in the BMW Group production network.

Thuringian town Gotha will in future be enlivened by precision work from abroad, thanks to the Canadian company Weber Manufacturing Technologies Inc., which is locating in the “Gotha-Süd” industrial park. The manufacturer of precision iron and aluminium moulds, mainly for the automotive and aerospace industries, will in future offer aftersales, repair and maintenance services at the site to its German and European clients.

In the construction boom of recent years, the Logistics Centre in Apolda was a major support for the Austrian Doka Group, the market leader in the formwork sector, in supplying the immense demand. For this reason the location, built in 2013, is now being expanded into the European distribution centre. Doka has already invested 14 million euros in its 11.4-ha centre of distribution. Now a further 6 to 8 million euros are being spent on ca. 2.5 ha of additional area and on expanding the site. Today, as in the past, Apolda, near Weimar, was selected by virtue of its central location in Germany and excellent infrastructure.

Schuster Kunststofftechnik, part of the Japanese Nissha Corporation, celebrated the opening of its new logistics building in Waltershausen in 2018. 1.5 million euros were invested in the 2,800 m² property; further investments are planned at the location. The medium-sized company, with its 180 employees, specialises in plastics processing, primarily for the automotive industry.

A new research facility is being established in Thuringia in the field of biomedicine. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has put a new research centre into operation in Erfurt, where three Fraunhofer institutes are to conduct interdisciplinary research into new medical procedures at the interface between medicine and biology. Those participating are the Institutes for Photonic Microsystems, for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering and for Cell Therapy and Immunology. A total of 35 million euros will have been invested in the setting up of the project centre by 2023. The new centre will further consolidate Thuringia as a location in its core sectors of optics, medical technology and microelectronics. The number of employees at the research facility is expected to rise steadily to 60 by the time it goes into regular operation.

The go-ahead of the ICE-City Erfurt investment project represents a further milestone of successful 2018 Thuringian investments. The official start represents an important stage for the city development project “ICE-City Erfurt”, one of the largest of its kind in Germany. As an ICE hub, Thuringia’s state capital will become the meeting point of Germany‘s newest fast routes. This moves the entire Free State into the transport centre of Germany and will attract tourists and conference guests to Thuringia as well as business travellers. With the city development project, a modern urban space for living and working is coming into existence around Erfurt Central Station. Over 30 hectares, this development area offers space for the ideas and visions of urban and project developers, hotel operators, entrepreneurs and investors.

The Free State is a captivating centre for high-performance industries and innovations, so that ever more companies from a wide variety of sectors are finding their way to Thuringia.

The city development project “ICE-City Erfurt” is one of the largest of its kind in Germany. © Mola + Winkelmüller Architekten, Berlin in cooperation with Machleidt GmbH, Städtebau I Stadtplanung, Berlin and sinai Gesellschaft von Landschaftsarchitekten mbH, Berlin