China’s Yinlong is expected to buy a 51% stake in Serbian bus manufacturer Ikarbus in mid-June and expand its product portfolio to electric vehicles, Ikarbus General Manager Aleksandar Vićentić has said.
Ikarbus’ privatization has already begun under the bus maker’s prepackaged bankruptcy, Vićentić told Tanjug, eKapija reported.
After Yinlong buys 51% of Ikarbus, 26% will remain state-owned and the rest in the hands of small shareholders, he said, noting that the Chinese company will also assume around EUR 9.5 million in Ikarbus’ debts.
Yinlong is one of the world’s top producers of batteries for electric vehicles and a major manufacturer of electric buses, electric trucks, and electric light commercial vehicles, and it plans for Ikarbus to make electric vehicles initially for buyers in South-East Europe and later the rest of the continent, according to Vićentić.
According to Vićentić, Ikarbus’ capacities have been under-utilized since 2018. The company is currently working on seven buses for a buyer in Hungary and two buses for local buyers, while it is also doing major overhauls for Belgrade’s public transit operator, Gradsko Saobraćajno Preduzeće (GSP) Beograd.
Vićentić also said that Ikarbus now has 120 employees, after 140, mainly older workers, applied for severance payments of EUR 200 per year of service under a social welfare program in late 2018.
According to an earlier report, buyers of Ikarbus’ electric buses would include GSP Beograd, while the Chinese investor also intends to build a battery factory in Serbia.
Ikarbus’ production of electric buses would potentially lead to the construction of many smaller plants to be the project’s suppliers.
EV parts plant to launch operations in 2019
In other e-mobility news in Serbia, German car parts maker ZF Friedrichshafen AG, is building a plant in Pančevo close to the capital Belgrade to produce powertrain components for hybrid and electric vehicles (EV) under a EUR 160 million project.
Starting in 2019, the plant will focus on the production of electric motors and generators for hybrid and electric drives, as well as other components.