Porsche Austria expands in central Europe, looks to China

Salzburg, Austria. Porsche Austria, Europe's largest car dealer by sales, plans further expansion. The group is targeting central and eastern Europe.

Porsche Austria opened its largest eastern European dealership in Bucharest, Romania last year. The company plans to invest 25 million euros in a new branch in the Romanian capital by the end of 2005. The aim is to sell 38,000 vehicles in Romania by 2010.

"We want to grow with the markets," said Porsche Austria boss Wolf Dieter Hellmaier referring to central and eastern Europe.

Porsche Austria is already the authorized importer for Volkswagen in Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia and Montenegro through its Porsche Inter Auto subsidiary. Porsche Inter Auto also sells cars in the Czech Republic.

Hellmaier said some central and eastern Europe markets suffer the same incentive battles as in the United States and western Europe.

He said there is aggressive competition for new-car sales especially in Slovenia and Croatia.

Porsche Austria may establish a car dealer chain in China. But Hellmaier said there are bureaucratic hurdles to overcome before that happened.

Porsche Austria has around 14,000 employees and annual sales of almost 8 billion euros. It sold about 371,000 new cars in the 2004-05 business year that ended March 31.