If you pass through Piešťany by train, you'll probably see dozens of rail wagons stacked with sparkling new cars. Look closely and you'll see an insignia that is becoming ubiquitous in Central Europe - Daewoo's seashell-shaped logo. Why are all these cars parked on the side tracks of the Piešťany railway station?
Daewoo Motor Slovakia is building a new 100 million Sk ($3.03 million) operation and service center in Piešťany. "Due to the big sales volume [of Daewoo cars] in 1996 and 1997, we need to satisfy our customers," said Peter Halgaš, Marketing Manager for Daewoo Motor Slovakia, which currently operates out of a rented facility in Piešťany. "This demands [a new center]."
The 17,000 square meter center will feature sales and service facilities for the general public, while the company will set up a wholesale car and spare parts center. A spare parts stock area will store parts for all Daewoo service centers in the country. Storage space for about 300 cars will also be available, while a new education center will provide training for dealers and technicians.
Construction at the new site began in June 1997, and at the end of March 1998, the company was able to move in to the new center. Operations are expected to begin in early May. "The spare parts stocking facility is already completely operational," Halgaš said.
Piešťany was chosen by Daewoo primarily because the previous Daewoo importer had established a storage center in the Piešťany area. "[For dealers] it was very convenient to use these facilities," Halgaš said. "It is more convenient than Bratislava and operational expenses are lower in Piešťany."
Passenger cars find their way into Slovakia through the port of Koper in Slovenia, where they are loaded onto rail wagons. "Due to legislative conditions that require payment of customs duties and VAT in advance, in the future it will be more advantageous for us to bring the cars from Koper according to our [immediate] needs," Halgaš said. "In accordance with the structure of sales preferences, we will keep some cars [in the Piešťany inventory] and then we'll continuously resupply."
Daewoo is gearing up for the addition of new models - the Lanos, Nubira, and Leganza. The replacement for the brand's popular Tico model - the Matiz - will go on sale in Slovakia in August or September. After taking over Ssang Yong Motors last January, Daewoo is also preparing to start sales of Ssang Yong models.
Piešťany seems happy to have Daewoo as a neighbor. "The new Daewoo facility will make Piešťany more attractive and will provide more employment opportunities," said Antónia Viteková, Director of the Piešťany Mayor's office.
Last year, Daewoo Group Chairman Kim Woo-Choong donated 5 million Sk to Piešťany to help the town develop its municipal social programs. Most of the money has been earmarked for reconstructing and repairing Piešťany's churches and religious schools.
Jeffrey Jones is the editor-in-chief of the Central Europe Automotive Report.