Bulgaria seeking to attract more auto investments

Article by Anita Panait, on October 3, 2013

Bulgaria is increasing its efforts to bring in more investments to the vehicle in the country, building on its success in attracting a new site for Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motors. Bulgaria has so far lagged behind its neighbors in attractive fresh investments. Hungary, Romania and Serbia were already successful in getting new investments from carmakers like Daimler, Ford and Fiat.

Ernst & Young consultant Diana Nikolaeva told Automotive News Europe that Bulgaria has been successful in getting new plants from suppliers thanks to low corporate and personal taxation, a skilled workforce and a stable economic climate. She added that other factors include Bulgaria’s proximity to western European markets as well as its being part of the EU's harmonized regulatory framework. Nikolaeva, however, said that Bulgaria’s slow law enforcement and complex administrative procedures may pose some risks to investors.

In 2012, Great Wall opened its first European site in Lovech, Bulgaria, in a joint-venture with local company Litex Motor Corporation. The site has an annual capacity of 50,000 units and is assembling the Steed pickup from kits supplied from China. Great Wall currently markets its vehicles in Italy and the United Kingdom. Other suppliers having plants in Bulgaria include Johnson Control Automotive Electronics, Grammer and Wurth Elektronik.

Nikolaeva said that they expect the concentration of component suppliers in locations where “there has been a long tradition” in producing hydraulic parts, cable equipment and sensors. Bulgaria's Automotive Cluster will hold its first international automotive conference in Sofia from October 8-10 with invited speakers to include Hyundai Chief Operating Officer Allan Rushforth.

Headquartered in Baoding, Hebei, China, Great Wall Motors Co. Ltd. is a Chinese carmaker that sells passenger cars and trucks under the Great Wall brand and SUVs under the Haval and WEY brands. Named after the Great Wall of China, the company initially built trucks and only commenced production of sedans in 2010.

Great Wall Motors started in 1984 and became the no. 1 pickup truck maker in China in 1998. It was the first private Chinese carmaker to become a public company after launching an initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange on December 15, 2003.

Great Wall Motors started selling its vehicles in Europe in 2006, offering small vans to the market. During that year, Great Wall Motors shipped around 500 SUVs to Italy in 2006. Great Wall Motors also started selling its products in the Australian market in 2009. As of 2010, Great Wall Motors was the only Chinese carmaker selling in the EU region.

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