Brno - The Czech Republic is gradually becoming the gear-box production superpower.
First, Škoda Auto, a part of Volkswagen group, invested 1.5 billion CZK (60 million EUR) to further expand its gearbox plant in Mladá Boleslav.
Now, Aktuálně.cz has learned that South Korean Hyundai automaker was given a green light by the Moravian-Silesian regional authorities to radically expand its gearbox plant in Nošovice, and to build a new construction hall there.
In spite of vocal protests of some civic groups that pointed out the effects of the planned expansion on the environment and traffic conditions, the regional authorities permitted Hyundai to expand its Nošovice facility by 18 thousand square meters.
Hyundai wants to double its gearbox production which now equals 300 thousand pieces manufactured in a year. The company is going to invest billions of CZK to reach this goal.
The production is going to be started no sooner than in 2011, and 256 people will be employed, says the company. The facility will supply Hyundai's own car-manufacturing factory in the Nošovice industrial zone as well as the plant of its „sister" company KIA in Žilina, Slovakia.
Environmental concerns addressed. Sort of
„The effects of the gearbox manufacturing plant in terms of emissions and noise can be noticeable above all in the same production area, however within the framework of the overall production process of the company, the effects will be marginal and the situation will basically remain the same," the company said, addressing the protests.
The regional authorities set 30 conditions for Hyundai - generally, the company will have to choose environment-friendly sub-contractors, and the authorities will be measuring the emissions and noise. However, the company will not have to have its material brought by train, as demanded by the civic groups.
Škoda not lagging behind
Hyundai started to manufacture passenger cars in Nošovice at the end of 2008. In 2009, it produced roughly 118 thousand automobiles.
Read more: Hyundai starts trial production in Nošovice
Škoda Auto is another important player in the gearbox production, with its latest 1.5 billion CZK investment being among the most robust investments made lately in the Czech Republic.
One thousand gearboxes will be produced every day in Škoda Auto's new facilities, and the investment will give jobs to 270 people. „The production is due to start at the end of 2010," said earlier Reinhard Jung, the chairman of Škoda Auto's board of directors.
Scrappage programs worked
Thanks to the car scrappage schemes, the Czech automobile industry has not been hit by the global recession so hard as predicted. In 2009, the number of people employed in the automobile industry decreased to 115,450 employees, which means that „only" 14 thousand jobs were lost.
„The data show that the measures introduced in many EU member states had positive effect also on the employment stabilization in the automobile industry in the Czech Republic in the second half of 2009," said president of the Automobile Industry Association of the Czech Republic Martin Jahn.
According to Jahn, the Czech automobile industry is now in a relatively good starting position. „However, it is expected that this year too will be a difficult one for the industry, because the revitalization of the world markets will come slowly," says Jahn.