Drivers not revved up for Day Without Cars

SEVERAL Slovak cities took part in the Day Without Cars programme on September 22, but the traffic on the roads suggested not many people left their cars at home.

Day Without Cars doesn't keep drivers away

SEVERAL Slovak cities took part in the Day Without Cars programme on September 22, but the traffic on the roads suggested not many people left their cars at home.

Some cities even offered free public transportation, but there was no noticeable increase in pedestrians or decrease in drivers that day, the Sme daily reported.

Bratislava had free public transit and closed one of the bridges across the Danube River, the Old Bridge, to cars. But in the streets, there wasn't a big difference compared to a usual weekend.

"Today we have about the same number of cars as on any other Saturday with good weather," said an employee operating a paid parking lot in the city centre.

Trams, trolley-buses and buses were not especially crowded.

"I do not think there are more passengers than on other Saturdays," one trolley-bus driver, driving between the railway and bus stations, said in the late afternoon.

Other drivers said many people were buying bus tickets, not knowing they could take a free ride.

Jitka, a tourist who just arrived from Prague that day, bought tickets for herself and her two children.

"There was no note saying that today, it was for free," she said. "Luckily I am staying here for several days, so I can use the tickets later."

Many other people who knew about the free rides said they did not know the reason for it.

More than 100 cyclists and inline skaters, accompanied by police cars, rode from Hodžovo Square through the city centre and part of Petržalka to Gondova Street by the Old Bridge - making a trip they wouldn't often make on a regular day.

"If there were marked routes for bicycles in the centre, more people would probably ride to work," said a cyclist named Richard, 18. "In other countries, it works well like this."

If bicycle paths in Bratislava were completed at the pace they are constructed now, they would be ready in 40 years, said Patrik Martin from the BicyBa association.

"It is too slow," he said.

Although several bike paths have been constructed in Bratislava lately, the most important are still missing - in the inner centre, where the traffic is the densest and busiest, he said.

Žilina, Nitra, Košice and Brezno also participated in the Day Without Cars.

The event was the highlight of European Mobility Week. This year, more than 1,300 towns and cities in Europe took part in the Mobility Week with various events.

Vintage vehicles take to Slovak roads

MORE than 650 historic vehicles have been certified in Slovakia in the last six years.

The testing commission approved 653 historic passenger cars, motorbikes, utility cars and trucks.

"Such a vehicle must have everything original - engine, gearbox, differential gear, and also their wheels, bodywork . . ." the vice-president of the Association of Historical Car Collectors, Konštantín Nikitin, told the TASR newswire. "You cannot have modern headlights on a car made in 1936."

Nikitin's cars have appeared in several foreign and Slovak films.

"As a young child, I already had tin cars in this style," he said. "I have liked them since forever, and when the modern cars came out, I still kept admiring these ones."

When he began collecting vintage vehicles, it was easy to trade them for a bottle of rum or similar deals, he said.

Owners of historical vehicles have some advantages. Police issue their vehicles a historical registration number (EČ) if they present the card proving they own the vehicle.

Owners also get a break on their third-party liability insurance. If they have the ownership card, they pay one-quarter of the amount due for their insurance category. With the ownership card and a historic EČ, they only pay one-twelfth of this amount.

Nikitin has five vehicles in his collection.

"I have two cars - a Mercedes and a Kyssel - which are unique in the world in this version," he said.

Only a few thousand of his Mercedes 170V were assembled: limousines, two-seat convertibles and four-seat convertibles.

Nikitin owns the two-seat Type C, and also has two additional seats for children or luggage.

The slowest of Nikitin's cars is a Ford, with a maximum speed of 100 kilometres per hour. The fastest is the newest one of the collection, a Morgan from 1969.

"It had the Czechoslovak record in 1973," he said. "Its speed measured by radar was 204 kilometres per hour."

Vehicle originality checks now available

CAR owners in Slovakia are now be able to have their vehicles tested to make sure that all their parts are original.

The checks have been offered since September 1.

"For Slovak citizens, it means they can be sure that when they buy a car, it does not come from illegal activities, and they will not be punished in the future," the Ministry of Transport, Post and Tele-communications said in a statement, the TASR newswire wrote.

The checks inspect the vehicle identification number (VIN) and other markings on the vehicle and its parts, and the car documents. They are designed to ensure all the parts and documents are authentic and from the same car.

"The goal is to eliminate manipulation and illegal inter-ventions in the identity of the car," the Transport Ministry said.

The tests can be performed in a stationary or mobile workshop. Car owners who import vehicles from abroad can currently ask for the check at about 20 places. The maximum price for small passenger cars is Sk1,500 (€44).

In the initial phase, the service will be optional.

"Starting on January 1, 2008, after the network of facilities offering these checks has been enhanced, we plan to launch a general requirement to check the originality of every car imported from abroad," the ministry stated.

Matador starts building plant near Třinec

THE MATADOR Automotive Group plans to spend about CZK500 million (Sk606 million or €18.1 million) to build a new plant near the Czech town of Třinec.

The Slovak-Korean company Matador-Dong Won, based in Dubnica nad Váhom, will make parts for Hyundai in the new plant, in the Baliny industrial zone. Hyundai has a factory in Nošovice, near Třinec.

Serial production at the Czech plant is planned to start in January 2009, group spokesman Dušan Koblišek told the TASR newswire.

Matador's Dubnica plant was founded in September 2005. Matador Automotive owns 62 percent, and the Korean company Dong Won owns 35 percent.

The Matador Automotive group also includes plants in Vráble and Bratislava, Dong Won Aufeer Design, and Karsit Matador.

Matador's plant in the Czech Republic will be almost the same as its plant in Dubnica, in terms of its final products. The Dubnica plant produces wooden frames, dashboard supports, and door reinforcements for Kia Motors Slovakia, and for its supplier Mobis Slovakia. This year, it is scheduled to produce parts for 115,000 Kia Cee'd cars.

PSA Slovakia head announces his retirement

PSA PEUGEOT Citroen Slovakia director general Alain Baldeyrou is set to retire in October.

PSA Trnava spokesperson Peter Švec told the SITA newswire that Baldeyrou, 63, made this decision after spending five years working on the Slovak project and three years at the Trnava car plant site.

Under his leadership, the plant's construction was completed in record time and the production of the Peugeot 207 model was launched, Švec added.

Jean Mouro, 38, is to take up the director general post. Mouro was in charge of the paint shop in the PSA Peugeot Citroen plant in Aulnay, France.

Mouro's appointment to the post coincides with the production launch of a brand new model and the opening of a third shift. The plant, which employs 3,300 people in two shifts, is currently at its maximum production capacity.

The Trnava plant is PSA Peugeot Citroen's most modern, technology-wise. Investment in PSA Peugeot Citroen Slovakia, which the French company announced in January 2003, has reached €700 million (Sk23.9 billion).

Construction of the plant began in the summer of 2003, and production of the Peugeot 207 was launched in June 2006. By the end of 2006, nearly 52,000 cars had been made in the plant. The plant's output capacity is 300,000 vehicles over three shifts.

New investments are also being planned for the plant in the future. Production of a new model is to start by 2010.

Slovakia's car prices highest in the EU

PRICES for new cars in Slovakia, before value-added tax, are the highest in the European Union, the TASR newswire reported.

Slovaks buy passenger cars for 8.4 percent more than the average in the 27 EU countries, according to the European Commission's report on car prices.

According to the report, cars in Denmark are sold for the lowest prices. The Czech Republic is one place better than Slovakia.

As for Eurozone members, Germans pay the most for a new car, while Finns pay the least.

During the first six months of 2007, the EC compared prices of 87 car models of different brands and classes without the value-added tax. For example, the Citroen C3 is sold in Denmark for 98.3 percent of the average European price, while in Slovakia it's sold for up to 126.6 percent, the report states.

However, the EC report shows that price differences between the countries are decreasing over the years, and the standard divergence index has reached an all-time low.

For the first time, the report also includes the new member countries of the EU - Bulgaria and Romania.

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