Hyundai Set to Launch Czech Plant in November

New plant will be third largest auto factory in the country

Hyundai Motor is planning to launch production at its new Czech plant in early November, undeterred by the global car industry slowdown. The plant will be the third largest car factory in the Czech Republic, a country where car production makes up 18% of GDP, after Skoda Auto and TPCA, a joint venture of Toyota and PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The 1.1-billion-euro factory in Nosovice near the eastern city of Ostrava comprises five plants altogether. The company said the first plant to be approved was the gearbox plant, expected to employ 350 staff and turn out 600,000 gearboxes of five types a year. Hyundai will supply half of the gearbox output to its sister Kia Motors factory in western Slovakia.

Hyundai expects to employ a total of 2,000 staff in the Czech plant by the end of the year and to produce 200,000 Hyundai i30 cars a year for European markets in the first phase, with an increase to 300,000 units by 2011.

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech spokesman Petr Vanek waved aside all concerns about the current crisis, which has led other carmakers to cut production and shut plants in Europe and in the United States. "If Czech car sales grow by 10% a year, we cannot talk about a crisis here," said Vanek.

Czech car sales rose by more than 10% to 109,000 units in January-September against a year ago, while output grew by 10% to 744,759 cars in the period.

In 2007, Czech factories produced cars worth almost 641 billion koruna (US$ 35.6 billion.)

"The crisis threatens companies producing big cars with high consumption, carmakers whose products do not comply with the carbon-dioxide emission limits, and morally outdated carmakers, which is not our case," Vanek said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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