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AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY - COUNTRY NOT EXPECTED TO BE R&D CENTRE YET

New car models to be Made in Slovakia

NOW that they have settled in Slovakia, the country's car giants plan to extend their portfolio of models produced here.
Korean carmaker Kia introduced its Pro Cee'd model at the Frankfurt car show on September 11, and France's PSA Peugeot Citroen plans to produce a new model in Slovakia by 2010.
The Pro Cee'd is a three-door sport car version of the Cee'd, which was the first Kia Motors model produced in Slovakia.

NOW that they have settled in Slovakia, the country's car giants plan to extend their portfolio of models produced here.

Korean carmaker Kia introduced its Pro Cee'd model at the Frankfurt car show on September 11, and France's PSA Peugeot Citroen plans to produce a new model in Slovakia by 2010.

The Pro Cee'd is a three-door sport car version of the Cee'd, which was the first Kia Motors model produced in Slovakia.

Though the car is produced in Slovakia, the new model was developed at the Kia Motors development centres in Germany and Namyang, South Korea. Slovakia has not yet become a home of car development, but it might happen eventually, said Dušan Dvořák, spokesman of Kia Motors in Žilina.

"Slovakia is becoming an important country in car production, and thus an environment is gradually emerging where people might get involved in research," Dvořák told The Slovak Spectator. "Our company has a development centre in Germany where people from all over Europe are working, and Slovaks also have a chance to break through there."

The new Kia model will be produced for the same market segment as the original Cee'd hatchback - meaning all of Europe.

Kia's Slovak plant has produced the five-door Cee'd hatchback, its Cee'd_SW variant, and the Sportage sport utility vehicle, and exports most of its cars to Germany, Spain, Great Britain, France and Poland.

The company plans to produce 150,000 cars this year and 225,000 next year.

"The share of models will depend on market developments," said Dvořák, adding that the Cee'd and Cee'd_SW are the most-produced models.

PSA Peugeot Citroen expects to launch the production of its new model in 2010.

"It will be a completely new model and the company has decided that it will be produced exclusively in Slovakia's Trnava plant," Peter Švec, director of the PSA Peugeot Citroen communications department, told The Slovak Spectator.

The new model will be developed outside Slovakia.

PSA Peugeot Citroen plant in Trnava currently produces the Peugeot 207. Its serial production started in Trnava last year. Trnava was the third location to produce the model, following Poissy, near Paris, and Madrid. The 207 was developed in Peugeot's mother country, France.

As the serial production of the first Peugeot model in Slovakia was launched only last year, Švec said that it's premature to gauge Slovakia's prospects of participating in new car development.

The company produced 52,000 cars last year in Slovakia, and this year it's expected to climb to approximately 180,000 cars. The company has not yet released its production plan for next year.

German carmaker Volkswagen, which came to Slovakia in 1991, produces the Volkswagen Touareg, Volkswagen Polo, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne in its Bratislava plant. The luxury Audi Q7 was the latest model launched in Bratislava, in 2005.

Bratislava is the only Volkswagen plant where the Q7 is produced, which auto industry specialists interpret as praise for the standard of Slovak car-making. However, Volkswagen has not been developing models in Slovakia, either.

"We are a car-producing factory, so the Volkswagen research and development department

is placed in our corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany," Volkswagen spokes-woman Daniela Rutsch told The Slovak Spectator.

The company produced approximately 240,000 cars last year. However, due to high demand, Volkswagen Slovakia will increase its production to about 250,000 cars annually, Andreas Tostmann, chair of the board of directors, told the SITA newswire.

"We have recorded a strong demand for Touareg, Polo and Audi Q7, which will slightly boost the total volume of production compared to last year," Tostmann said.

The company produced its two millionth car in May. Currently, Volkswagen Slovakia produces 1,200 cars a day, while at the end of 1991, only six cars were produced each day, SITA reported.


Domestic cars gaining popularity

New cars Market share
over 8 months
of 2007 (%)
The number of new cars sold in Slovakia over the first eight months of 2007 was up six percent from the same period last year. The total number of cars up to 3.5 tonnes was 53,578, according to the data of the Association of the Automotive Industry in Slovakia.

The statistics show that cars produced by the three major carmakers in Slovakia - Kia Motors Slovakia, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Volkswagen Slovakia - are increasing their share on the Slovak market, Mária Nováková from the association told the media.

Škoda 22.04
Peugeot 7.37
Citroen 7.33
Volkswagen 7.15
Renault 5.52
Suzuki 5.49
Ford 4.97
Kia 4.94
Opel 4.50
Hyundai 4.27
Source: Association of the Automotive Industry of the Slovak Republic

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