Feature: Chery/Ebro alliance offers career restart for Spanish auto worker

BARCELONA, Spain, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Rosa Maria Jimenez lost her job when Nissan closed its Barcelona plant in 2021. The newly established alliance between Chinese manufacturer Chery Automobile and Spain's Ebro-EV Motors, however, enabled her to restart making cars at the former factory.

"For such a large and important company in China as Chery to come here is for us the realization that we'll be able to continue doing what we know best, which is making cars," Jimenez told Xinhua on Thursday.

Ebro-EV Motors and Chery Automobile signed a pact in April to develop new electric vehicles through a joint venture in the northeastern Spanish city of Barcelona.

Under the alliance, Chery will become the first Chinese automaker to produce vehicles in Europe, from Ebro's facilities located at a former Nissan plant.

Some 1,250 former Nissan auto manufacturing workers will be re-employed by the new joint venture, which aims to eventually produce 150,000 vehicles a year in the Zona Franca port area.

"This is going to create many jobs and not only for the workers in the company itself but all those jobs around that are connected to a car manufacturer. That's perfect and I'm happy to see more foreign companies come here and create jobs," Jimenez added.

Among the first group of women to begin working in the Nissan plant in 2000, Jimenez said that the announcement that the Japanese automaker had decided to close the factory "seemed to come out of nowhere."

However, she is now delighted by the chance to continue doing the job that she came to love during her two decades at the former Nissan plant.

"When you start working for a carmaker you're thinking about the financial stability that an established company can provide over many years, but the work grows on you and in the end I loved doing the job," she told Xinhua.

Herself the daughter of an auto worker and a resident of the neighboring town of Prat de Llobregat, the car industry has long been, and remains, an important part of Jimenez's life.

"This really changes my life for the better because not only do I work in this company but so does my husband, and so both of us are equally happy about it," she said.

Currently undergoing training for her new role in what will now be called the Ebro Factory, Jimenez said that she is scheduled to begin working on the first vehicles before the end of the year.

Chery's Omoda 5, the brand's first electric model, will be among the first vehicles to roll off the production line at the plant, along with two Ebro SUV models made with technology developed with Chery.

Jimenez will have had a hand in assembling some of those cars and she adds that she is optimistic that the joint venture will be successful for many years to come.

"We all have to pull in the same direction. For this project to work out and for it to last, all of us have to do our part, both the company and the workers," she concluded.

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