HotNews.ro analysis

The car crisis in Central and Eastern Europe: from Europe's Detroit, to Volga and Lada

de Vlad Barza, transl/adapt. C.B.     HotNews.ro
Joi, 6 august 2009, 14:31 English | Regional Europe

Vezi harta industriei auto
Foto: HotNews.ro
Romania is knows for low-cost cars and the Logan scheme. Serbia wants to follow its example. Slovakia produces German SUVs. The Czech Republic is a Skoda country, but also a class mini producer. Turkey specialised in commercial cars and busses. Russia hosts plants of most car industry big names. Ukraine is the Chinese producers' heaven. All the countries in the region have a strong car industry and saw plants opening even during the last two years.

Russia - Extreme diversity, from outdated cars to new models

AvtoVAZ producing Lada is by far the biggest producer, but is currently in huge troubles. It used to build around one million cars every year, but last year it could not get pass 800,000. Mass redundancy is expected. Renault bought 25% of the company. GAZ is the second largest car builder in Russia, producing Volga and a range of commercial cars. The company owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska received state aid worth of 600 million dollars and might strike a deal with Opel. UAZ is a third big local producer, building SUVs, buses and commercial cars.

Ford produces here Mondeo and Focus. General Motors makes SUVs Hummer, Cadillac and Chevrolet. Renault is also on the market with Logan. A less known producer, Avtotor, builds luxurious cars in a Russian enclave bordered by EU countries. BMW is also produced here by Avtotor. VW, Nissan, Toyota are other big car industry names that are produced at the Russian plants.

Poland - Under the huge Fiat plant sign
Poland hosts the biggest car plant in the region: Fiat at Tychy. GM produces its best seller: Astra, but also Chevrolet. The country produces many mini cars and other models under 15,000 euros. Starting September, Ford Ka is producing here and the manager is happy that the cirisis increases the sales. Volkswagen are building here Caddy and Transporter TS at the plant in Poznan.

Turkey - Local companies married with big international producers

Renault produces here more cars than in Pitesti (South Romania). Ford builds big volumes of Transit Connect, which will be built in Oltenia as well (Romanian South region). Almost all major Asian car producers build limousines. Many bus brands are built in Turkey. The country produces many low-cost models as well.

Renault is the biggest producer here. Ford is also present in Turkey, as is Fiat, Koc Holding, Citroen, Peugeot, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kibar Holding (local company) and Karsan (local company), many of them sharing plants and many local companies producing for foreign brands. Commercial vehicles like Isuzu, MAN and BMC are also produced here.

The Czech Republic - The land of Skoda and of small capacity cars

Skoda has three big factories and 90% of the cars they produce are exported. 140,000 cars are both on a national level every year, but the country builds seven times the figure. This is a major car producer for Europe. The biggest car plants are Mlada Boleslav - building Fabia, Octavia sedan and SW, Kvasiny - producing Superb, Roomster and Praktik, and Vrchlabi - constructing Octavia. Kaolin hosts a plant producing over 300,000 class mini cars. This is the biggest mini class producer plant in Europe, built by Toyota and Peugeot - Citroen.

Slovakia - Europe's Detroit

Volkswagen plant exports annually German SUVs worth of six billion euros. Slovakia builds over 500,000 cars annually, many of them low-cost. Most of the cars are exported. The three main car plants are Volkswagen Bratislava, Kia in Zilina and the plant in Trnava, which produces Peugeot 207 and Citroen C3 Picasso.

Ukraine - Heaven for Chinese producers

The auto industry here is extremely strong and diverse, but very little known. Ukravto and Bogdan are the most important producers. Ukraine produces around 400,000 cars a year. There are a lot of models from the '70 and Chinese brands built here, next to German and Korean cars. The biggest car producer is UkrAvto, who took over ZAZ, a company that produces models derivated from the '70 Fiat models: ZAZ Slavuta and ZAZ Tavria. The plant in Illicevsk puts together Opel Astra Classic, Astra and Corsa Zafira kits, as well as Chery Chinese cars.

Slovenia - The country of class mini Renault

Here is the only plant where Renault produces Twingo. 60 kilometres away form Ljubljana there is the biggest car plant from the former Yugoslavia, in Novo Mesto where, besides Twingo, Fiat also produces Clio. The plant is close to France and Italy. Slovenia produces about 200,000 cars per year.

Hungary - The Japanese build cars for the Italians, the Germans produce for the entire Europe

Suzuki builds cars both for Fiat and for Opel. The sports car Audi TT is produced next to the Austrian border, in Gyor. Mercedes will start building cars here in about two years. Hungary produced last year 100,000 than Romania and the models were not near low-cost models. The biggest car plant in Hungary is Magyar Suzuki from Esztergom. The Japanese produce their Swift, Splash and SX4, but also Fiat Sedici and Opel Agila. The plant had to announce redundancies and a drop of 30% in production due to the current economic climate.

Serbia - Fiat is the name of the renaissance

Zastava car model stopped being produced. It is expected that Fiat starts building the smallest brand model after 2010. Fiat Punto is exported in other countries from the Balkans. Fiat shook hands with the authorities in Belgrade, deciding to have the plant constructing 200,000 annually by 2011. Model Fiat 500, a low-cost car, may return to life soon. Serbia is likely to become a low-cost car producer.

Bosnia - The promise of electric cars

Volkswagen produces cars in Sarajevo for 30 years, but the change in the border regime will make this process unprofitable. Cancelling the border taxes for EU imported cars made importing more profitable than producing. The plant in Vogosce builds around 4,000 cars annually for the inner market: Golf, Passat, Octavia, Fabia, A3, A4. 58% of the plant is owned by the German brand and 42% - by local company ASA Group. It produces car pieces as well, and it is rumoured to start the production of commercial electrical cars.
Bulgaria - The Chinese will feature the country on the car producers' list

It does not have its own car industry, but the Chinese from Great Wall, in partnership with local company Litex Motors, started to construct a plant several months ago in Loveci, investing 80 million euros. By the end of 2010, the plant should be producing Hover CUV SUV.

Romania - The car production increases due to Western demand

The country produces four times less cars than the Czech Republic or Turkey, but when Ford will reach its maximum capacity, it will make a difference. Ford plans to build several thousands Transit Connect in four months. Dacia estimates a 300,000 annual production, increasing from 242,000 due to the Western scrapping scheme. Dacia's export rate reached unprecedented figure in the first semester: 85%.

Sources: ACEA, APIA, Automotive News, Reuters, AFP, producers' websites, several news websites of the countries included in the analysis.  























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