Carmakers see promise of bonanza in eastern Europe | 9/13/2017 | Staff
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At Frankfurt's IAA auto show, European carmakers are looking east for growth.

As Frankfurt's IAA auto show gets under way, European carmakers are looking to the continent's east for growth, where increasing numbers of people are wealthy enough to afford their own wheels.

East - Europe - Industry - Expert - Laurent

"It's the east that's really driving Europe," said industry expert, Laurent Petizon of AlixPartners.

Car sales there increased 14 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2017 alone, to almost 700,000 vehicles, market research firm Jato found.

Poland - Sales - Percent - Vehicles - Period

Poland saw sales grow by 15.5 percent to 277,000 vehicles in the same period, making it Europe's seventh-largest car market.

Over the whole year 2017, sales are expected to reach a new record of 1.3 million in a region stretching from northerly Estonia to Bulgaria on the Black Sea—up 10 percent year-on-year.

Slowdown - Percent - Industry - Expert - Ferdinand

That's a slight slowdown from the 16 percent recorded in 2016, industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the Duisburg CAR institute noted, but a great deal more dynamic than the 3.0 percent expected in western Europe.

"Economic growth in the region and the relative lack of market saturation in motor vehicles are the factors underpinning" growth in the east, he said.

Romania - Bulgaria - Members - European - Union

Especially in Romania and Bulgaria, which have been members of the European Union for just 10 years, "there remains lots for room" to catch up, Petizon agreed.

Sales have grown hand-in-hand with carmakers' increasing investments in factories in the region, as massive multinationals chase lower labour costs than in western Europe.

Czech - Carmaker - Skoda - Unit - Auto

Czech carmaker Skoda, a unit of German auto giant Volkswagen, is the biggest player in eastern Europe, commanding a market share...
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