Bulgaria-Made Chinese Cars Hit EU Market in February 2011
Chinese car maker Great Wall Motor Co and Bulgarian company Litex Motors will be rolling off their first vehicles in the plant in the town of Lovech, Northern Bulgaria, in February 2011.
Great Wall Motor Company, one of China's biggest automotive manufacturers, signed a joint venture (JV) deal with Bulgarian diversified holding company Litex Commerce in the presence of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on October 15 last year.
The plant will have an annual production capacity of 50,000 units and assemble four different models – a sports utility vehicle (SUV), a pickup and two passenger car models, which are expected to be sold in European Union countries.
The total initial investment is around EUR 80 M, potentially reaching EUR 300 M if the project is successful. The cars are expected to be sold under the Great Wall badge, boosting the firm's output from around 400,000 at present.
The project is considered to be nothing short of a coup for Bulgaria, which does not currently produce any passenger vehicles, though it does have a modest but successful automotive components industry.
The plant will surely be positioned squarely towards export market and by the time production commences, the automobile market is expected to be experiencing a post-slump upswing.
This may also be the last chance for the revival of the local automobile industry after in mid 1990s Rover set up a joint venture with the Bulgarian Daru Group in Varna, which failed because of a weak market strategy, high prices, and a stronger competitor in the face of Skoda.
The factory in Varna operated in 1995-1996, and produced a total of 2 200 Rover Maestro cars.
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beside the Great Wall investment, there are quite a number of new investments talking place in the automotive industry in Bulgaria.
If I am not mistaken, the British Investment Fund Quorus is discussing an investment in Stara Zagora for the production of electro cars.
German hydraulic producer Ixetic is producing since 2009 in Plovdiv aggregates for BMW, Toyota and Navistar.
Several companies in Ruse are producing since a short time components for Dacia, for example Witte, a German producer of car locks, SET, also a German company and Montupet, a French company.
Another comparatively new investment is Kraiburg (German) in Novi Iskar, Sisecam (Turkey) in Targovishte (for Volkswagen and Toyota). The Zentrum f?r Mikroelektronik Dresden (Germany) plans a new production facility in Varna.
Other foreign automotive parts producers in Bulgaria include EPIQ, Sumimoto, Grammer, Melexis, Kuhn, Arkomat, Yazaki and Nursan.
So quite a lot of promising activities in Bulgaria in this sector.
'has anyone ever seen a photo of the production hall or read an interview with someone from Litex Motors?'
I have seen the halls in Lovech not long ago when they were already almost completed. I also read an interview in 'Handelsblatt' some time ago with Prof. Harald Leschke, the General Manager of Litex Motors. (He was director for advanced design at DaimlerChrysler before and developed most new models in the last 30 years for Daimler-Benz).
It is planned that the factory will start its activities as an assembly line only (all parts brought in from China). At a later stage it is planned that cars under the trademark 'Litex Motors' will be completely produced (and not only assembled) in Lovech.
'Litex Motors' is a Joint Venture between Litex Commerce and Great Wall. 400 of the 1800 staff will be foreign experts (mainly from China, Japan and Germany).
Certainly Great Wall is welcome to try, but previous efforts to sell Chinese made cars in Europe have not been successful.
The Chinese cars are considered to be of low quality, have insufficient safety standards and uncompetitive prices. It will certainly take a while and heavy investments to build up a solid reputation as in the case of South Korean car brands.
There is always a dream in Bulgaria to make money easy, fast and with no efforts and this dream is no different. The "genius" business idea to produce something everybody wants is not new, and "cheap Chinese cars" is an old classic.
But why haven't we seen any pictures from the factory/assembly facility in Lovech ?
The local community must be excited with so many new jobs and economic activity ?
There is no marketing campaigns anywhere ,why?
From zero in 2008 to 50 000 cars in 2011 is a remarkable technical achievement, but has anyone ever seen a picture from the factory or an interview with any employee ?