Chinese Cars Enter Europe's Back Door

Slovenian car dealer Avtocom, Dzenana Bazdarevic hopes to grab 4% of the Bosnia's market in 2007.

A leading Chinese automaker on Jan. 23 began selling its cars in Bosnia, the first time for the Asian country's models to have penetrated the European market. "We decided to first offer five low-priced Chinese models in the markets of the former Yugoslavia," a spokeswoman for Slovenian car dealer Avtocom, Dzenana Bazdarevic, said.

Avtocom, the authorized dealer in Europe for Shanghai Maple Automobile, a division of China's biggest private automaker Geely, hopes to grab 4% of the Bosnian car market this year and to double that figure by 2008. Next year it also intends to introduce five SMA models in Albania, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia.

The cheapest model, the Maple C31, would sell for 7,589 euros (US$9,872), while the most expensive, the Maple C81, would be offered at 11,276 euros (US$14,669.)

"Bosnian buyers can now get a new car for the same price at which they were buying second-hand vehicles," said Bazdarevic.

Since its 1992-1995 war, Bosnia has become a dumping ground for second-hand cars from neighboring countries. A recent study put the average age of the vehicles in the Balkan country at 15.2 years while showing that every fourth Bosnian citizen older than 18 owns a car.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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