Hungarian protesters disrupted an event in the city where Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. and Mercedes-Benz plan a 7.3 billion-euro ($7.9 billion) factory, signaling growing opposition to the country’s single biggest investment.
Residents shouted “traitors” at officials during a town-hall meeting in the eastern city of Debrecen, a stronghold of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling party and host of the planned factory, according to a video published on Telex news website on Friday.
The demonstrators said officials had failed to take into account potential environmental risks.
Similar local protests have taken place at sites across Hungary where battery makers, including Samsung SDI and SK Innovation, are planning to build new factories or expand existing ones.
Many of the new plants, which use significant amounts of resources including power and water, are being put on prime farmland.
Hungary, a hub for automakers ranging from Mercedes to Suzuki, has moved aggressively to court battery makers to put the country at the forefront of the transition to electric vehicles.
The government says battery plant investments will boost economic growth for years to come and provide tens of thousands of jobs.
Mercedes announced in August that it would join CATL in building the Debrecen plant, which will have an output capacity of 100 gigawatt hours, enough to power more than 1 million cars.
The facility will be in close proximity to customers BMW, Stellantis and Volkswagen Group, CATL said.
In the past 6 years, Hungary has won commitments of more than 14 billion euros and 20,000 new jobs from battery makers, according to data from the country’s investment agency.