Friday Feb 15, 2013
Jenő Boros | Source: Népszabadság
Although it has not yet reached peak performance, the motor vehicle industry is nonetheless the leading branch of Hungarian economy with 342 000 automobiles manufactured and 100 000 people employed during its record year.
The Hungarian car industry, however, will break no records this year, not even after the launch of a Mercedes plant in Kecskemét and a new Audi plant in Győr, since their output, including even that of Suzuki, will not reach the number of cars produced in 2008. The three plants plan to manufacture 330 000 cars in the current year, which constitutes growth compared to last year’s number.
In 2012, 1.92 million engines and 33,553 cars were manufactured at Audi Hungária in Győr. At the moment they assemble TT Coupé, Roadster, and A3 Cabriolet models; from the summer of 2013, production will start at a brand new manufacturing site that provides space for every production phase (pressing, bodywork, painting, vehicle assembly).
Communications Manager Péter Lőre informed us that the complex, which was built within a 900-million-euro investment project, will provide 2100 new jobs, thus the number of employees will amount to 8600. In parallel with the increase in the new plant’s production rate, the engine sector can expand at the place of the current vehicle assembly plant. Based on our information, 50 000 Audi cars will be manufactured in Győr this year, and 125 000 in 2014.
At the Kecskemét production site of Mercedes–Benz Manufacturing Hungary Kft., which was inaugurated last March, 40 000 B-Class cars were made in 2012, and the plan for the current year is 100 000 vehicles, 60 percent of which will already be CLA models. Communications Manager Edina Sztipichné Kozári shared with our reporter that the number of their staff exceeded 3000, and in the middle of the previous summer they switched from one-shift to two-shift production. As of this year, as many as 300 vehicles per day will roll off the assembly line at the Daimler plant in Hungary. The introduction of the new CLA model brought with it the creation of 500 new jobs for Kecskemét. In the case of B-Class cars, which have been produced since last March, they worked with 17 domestic component suppliers; with CLA, this number has increased to 25.
Due to the decline of the European market and domestic demand, production speed in the Esztergom plant was slowed down for two months. At Magyar Suzuki, which boasts an annual capacity of 300 000 and actually produced 155 000 vehicles in 2012, the number of shifts was reduced from two to one in November, while the number of employees remained 3100. In January, they switched back to two shifts again, commented spokesperson Viktória Ruska.
Thanks partly to this year’s novelty, they can newly increase their production, although the output of 180 000 cars falls way behind the 282 000 pieces manufactured in the record year of 2008. According to our information, during the summer standstill in production, they will switch for the manufacturing of a completely new model. 200 million euros will be spent for this purpose in Esztergom where the Japanese Suzuki Motor Corporation has invested nearly one and a half billion euros into its only manufacturing base in Europe since 1991.
During the past twenty years, 2.2 million cars have rolled off the assembly lines of Hungary with Subaru, FIAT, Opel, and Vauxhall badges on them. In Geneva in March, the wider public will already have the opportunity to take a good look at the Suzuki sports jeep that will be produced serially in Esztergom. Suzuki can cherish high hopes concerning this fashionable crossover, because it is the most dynamically expanding segment of the European market that has otherwise declined by 10 percent. (It increased by 34 percent.) The new model is all the more important because several subcontractor agreements will soon expire, which means that from next year, following Opel and Vauxhall Agila, FIAT Sedicik cars will not be manufactured in Esztergom, either.
The picture is slightly overshadowed by the downsizing of suppliers. At the time of the economic crisis, several motor vehicle industry companies reduced their number of staff; most jobs were lost in 2010, but there were layoffs last year as well. The management of Remy Automotive Hungary, which manufactures starter motors and generators, informed their 200 employees in July that their jobs would be terminated at the end of the year, the reason for this being the decline in European orders and the objective to reduce costs. As a consequence, following the decision of the parent company, they wound up production in Mezőkövesd and relocated manufacturing activities to China, South Korea and Mexico.
Car-Inside Kft, which manufactures car seat upholstery and used to employ 800 people as recently as last summer, closed its plants in Jánosháza and Lenti and from now on maintains only 500 jobs in Körmend and Nagykanizsa.
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