The Slovak government is having some success pushing auto industry investment to poorer regions in the east of the country.
Eastern Slovakia is in sharp contrast to the booming western end of the country, where Volkswagen has had an assembly plant since 1991 and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Kia will start production next year.
Slovak politicians want to lower unemployment in the east and alleviate what World Bank analysts have described as "deep pockets of poverty" there.
Successes so far are:
- Getrag Ford Transmissions will build a E300 million powertrain factory in Kosice, 400km east of Bratislava. The joint venture between Ford and Getrag of Cologne, Germany, will be their fourth in Europe. The factory will employ more than 700 people, the company says.
- US supplier Johnson Controls will build a E20 million seating components factory in Lucenec, 230km east of Bratislava. The company expects to start production in mid-2006. By 2007 the plant should employ 340 people, according to the company.
- Hankook Tires of Korea will build a E500 million factory in Levice, 130km east of Bratislava. This location is 145km south of Kia's Zilina, Slovakia, plant, which opens in late 2006, and 65km north of Suzuki's factory in Esztergom, Hungary.
VW is in the capital city of Bratislava; PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's new factory, which opens in mid-2006, is in Trnava, 50km north of Bratislava; and Kia's new plant is in Zilina 200km north of Bratislava.
Visteon, ArvinMeritor and Hella are among suppliers setting up operations within this 60km-wide belt along the country's western border to the Czech Republic and Austria.
Total employment in Slovakia's automotive sector is expected to double in the next three to four years to 100,000 people, according to SARIO, Slovakia's state investment body.
By 2010, the country's three plants will have a capacity to build 1.1 million cars a year, up from 300,000 in 2004, according to analysts Global Insight and CSM Worldwide.
Three suppliers plan to open factories in eastern Slovakia in the next two years: Getrag Ford Transmissions in Kosice; Hankook Tires in Levice; and Johnson Controls in Lucenec.