Bratislava, Slovakia – Both the Czech Republic and Slovakia have produced an unprecedented amount of cars in 2019, setting a new historic record for the industrial backbone of their economies.
Slovakia remains largest car manufacturer per capita in the world
With more than 1.1 million cars manufactured last year, Slovak car-makers beat the previous year’s record by some 7,000 vehicles, local Sme daily reported, citing figures from the Slovak Automotive Industry Association (ZAP). The small Central European country of 5.5 million has long held the title of the world’s largest car manufacturer per capita. With a staggering ratio of 202 cars produced per 1,000 inhabitants, this year is no exception.
The Slovak Automotive Industry Association expects the sector to break once more this record this year, with estimates of 1.15 million vehicles to be produced in 2020.
The automotive industry, made up of four car-makers (Volkswagen, Kia, PSA and Jaguar Land Rover) mainly concentrated in the country’s more affluent and industrialized western regions, accounted for 49.5% of Slovakia’s total industrial production and over 46% of its industrial exports.
Slovakia’s automotive sector facing tough ride ahead
Although car-making remains the backbone of the Slovak economy and main driver of growth, analysts have long warned that Slovakia remains far too reliant on its automotive sector and unprepared to face future disruptions, including the rise of automation and new forms of mobility, the lack of qualified personnel or an unpredictable growth in wages that might dent the economy’s competitiveness compared to its neighbours and drive foreign investors away.
The head of ZAP Alexander Matušek warned that appropriate measures needed to be taken for the sector to maintain its competitiveness. A worrying sign of the challenges ahead, Volkswagen, the country’s largest private employer, last year announced its first job cuts in a decade in its Slovak plant.
Czech Republic sets new car production record in 2019
Neighbouring Czech Republic has also produced an unprecedented amount of cars last year, setting a new record of more than 1.4 million vehicles that rolled out of Czech assembly lines, the Automotive Industry Association (SAP) revealed, marking a 1.7% increase compared to 2018.
In relative terms, this amounts to “only” 135 cars per 1,000 inhabitants – lagging far behind Slovakia’s figures.
This increase is mostly due to the sharp production boost of the iconic Czech manufacturer and largest private employer in the country Skoda Auto, whose production has risen by 3.3% yearly.
Like its neighbour, the Czech economy is largely dependent on its automotive sector, which accounts for some 9% of national GDP and two-thirds of industrial exports. According to the head of the Czech Automotive Industry Association, car production is not expected to grow further in 2020.
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