July 30, 2020 / 6:21 AM / 10 days ago

FACTBOX-Central Europe's car makers hit by COVID-19 pandemic

July 30 (Reuters) - The COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges for carmakers in central Europe. Below are figures on producers in the region and their contribution to the economies of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the countries in the region that are most reliant on the auto industry.

HUNGARY

Population: 9.8 million.

The car sector’s contribution to GDP is about 4-6%, and it accounted for almost one third of industrial output and 21% of exports in 2019.

The sector employs around 170,000 people.

GDP FORECAST FOR 2020: the government projects a 5% decline (vs OECD projection for a decline of 8%)

** AUDI - production is running in three shifts at its car plant, but certain parts of the engine plant were not back at full capacity as of mid-July. It made 164,372 cars last year and 1.969 million engines but declined to give a forecast for this year’s output due to the unpredictable situation. It plans a one-week maintenance shutdown at the car plant in August. In most parts of engine production, a two-week halt or reduced operation is planned.

** DAIMLER - operates in two shifts now, but is due to go back to three shifts from the first week of August. It declined comment on orders or expected output, and made about 190,000 cars last year. It plans a summer shutdown from Aug. 17-23.

** SUZUKI - restarted production at the end of April in a single shift, and went back to two shifts on July 13. From this year, it is making only hybrid cars for European Union markets. Last year it made close to 180,000 cars, and it expects output this year to be 20% below plans. It has scheduled a summer maintenance shutdown from Aug. 10-21.

** OPEL - its engine factory restarted on May 13, and is now running at full capacity in three shifts.

** BMW - the company said in mid-May that construction of its plant in eastern Hungary would be delayed “by a few months.” BMW announced in 2018 that it would invest 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) to build a plant in Hungary.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Population: 10.7 million.

The auto sector’s share in GDP is around 10%, and it accounts for more than 20% of exports.

Czech car makers produced 1.43 million vehicles in 2019.

The auto industry employs around 180,000 people directly and about half a million in total.

GDP FORECAST: the government projects a 5.7% decline (vs OECD forecast for a 9.6% decline)

** SKODA AUTO - part of the Volkswagen Group and the country’s biggest exporter, it delivered 1.24 million cars in 2019, with most produced in its Czech plants. It has returned to full production although it has said output will depend on demand.

** TPCA - a joint venture between Toyota Motor Co and Peugeot, it is running at full strength since June although shutdowns caused lost production of 40,000 vehicles.

** HYUNDAI MOTOR MANUFACTURING CZECH - part of Hyundai Motor Co., it produced 309,500 vehicles in 2019. It said in June it aimed to return to three-shift operations in the second half of the year as it saw some improvements.

SLOVAKIA

Population: 5.5 million.

The auto sector’s share in GDP is around 13%, and it accounts for about half of industrial production.

Slovakia is the world’s biggest per capita car producer, with 1.1 million vehicles made in 2019.

The sector employs about 275,000 directly and indirectly.

GDP FORECAST: the government projects a 9.8% decline (vs OECD forecast of a 9.3% decline)

** VOLKSWAGEN SLOVAKIA - the country’s biggest producer manufactured 377,750 vehicles in 2019. It said current production was in line with plans but declined to give a forecast for 2020 output. The Slovak government has aimed to gain further Volkswagen investments at the plant after the German carmaker backed away from a new site in Turkey.

** KIA MOTORS SLOVAKIA - running a two-shift operation and aiming to reintroduce a third shift in September, after the planned summer shutdown. It produced a record 344,000 cars in 2019. Output fell 27% year-on-year in the first half of 2020. The company is planning to boost the share of eco-friendly cars in its output.

** GROUPE PSA SLOVAKIA - a 55-day shutdown led to lost production of 72,000 vehicles. It produced a record 371,152 cars in 2019. CEO Martin Dzama was quoted by Slovak media as saying the plant faced a tough future if it didn’t win production of a new model within the group.

** JAGUAR LAND ROVER - the country’s newest plant was launched in 2018. It restarted production in May and said in June it was gradually increasing output. ($1 = 0.8502 euros) (Reporting by Krisztina Than in Budapest and Jason Hovet in Prague, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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