Great Wall JV to Produce EU Cheapest Cars in Bulgaria
Voleex C10 sedan, Hover H5 SUV and Steed pickup are the three different vehicle models, which Chinese car maker Great Wall Motor Co and Bulgarian company Litex Motors will produce in the town of Lovech, Northern Bulgaria, at very competitive prices.
The companies are to roll off their first vehicles by the end of the year amid expectations for a furore not least because of their low prices.
Even though the price list has not been officially announced, unconfirmed reports say Voleex C10, a small supermini-class hatchback, will be tagged at BGN 12 500, VAT included, making it the cheapest car not only in Bulgaria, but across the whole of Europe.
The other two models of the Chinese-Bulgarian joint venture will also break price records for a large SUV and pickup. Prices for the Great Wall Hover will start from BGN 25,000 and for Steed, from BGN 20 000, VAT excluded.
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 at the end of 2009.
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.
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