Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech (HMMC), the Czech unit of South Korean carmaker Hyundai, launched mass car production at its new 1.1-billion-euro (US$1.45 billio) plant at Nosovice in the east of the country on Nov. 3.
HMMC president Kim Eokjo said that Hyundai had now officially become a European car maker. "Our production represents the highest possible level of automation, which gives us an important advantage over our competitors," he added.
The Hyundai plant will be the third-biggest car factory in the Czech Republic, a country heavily dependent on car production, after Volkswagen's unit Skoda Auto and TPCA, a joint venture of Toyota and PSA Peugeot Citroen.
The company expects to produce 18,000 Hyundai i30 cars in the factory this year, 200,000 next year and 300,000 in 2011.
The plant, which will supply cars to European markets, employs 1,750 people. It expects to have 2,750 staff next year and 3,400 in 2011.
Last week, Hyundai launched a gearbox plant on the site, which will 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.
HMMC spokesman Petr Vanek said the global crisis had affected neither global Hyundai sales nor exports. "In October, global Hyundai sales rose by 12% to 269,958 units, which is the best monthly figure in memory," he said, adding the growth was boosted by demand for smaller cars.
"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cars with high consumption, carmakers whose products do not comply with the carbon-dioxide emission limits, and morally outdated carmakers, which is not our case," Vanek said earlier. In 2007, Czech factories produced cars worth almost 641 billion koruna, US$35.6 billion), which representing 18% of the country's gross domestic product.
The Association of Automotive Industries expects Czech car output to grow by 4%-5% this year.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008