With their production lines revving up, carmakers in the Czech Republic are preparing to deliver new models to showrooms. After Škoda Auto’s recent unveiling of an upgrade on its popular Superb, the Silesian-based Hyundai has just showcased its new Tucson line.
The South Korean company began production of the sports utility Tucson at its plant in Nošovice last week. It is set to replace the shorter, narrower and slightly higher Hyundai ix35, which the factory produced over a four-year period, and is aimed at becoming a flagship vehicle for the marque.
A spokesman for Hyundai said the Tucson will go on the market at the turn of August and September, with the firm due to announce a price tag between now and then.
Among those attending Tuesday’s launch was the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, who reminded the assembled that Hyundai’s CZK 3 billion investment in the Nošovice plant – which went into operation in 2008 – was the biggest foreign investment in the country’s history.
The South Korean firm is planning to produce 330,000 vehicles this year (up from 307,000 in 2014), with Tucsons accounting for a third of that output. The new car should be exported to around 60 states.
Hyundai reports that demand for its vehicles is rising. However, this poses challenges: It needs to accelerate production from 60 to 66 cars an hour, a situation which has not gone down well with unions.
Hyundai was the second largest auto maker in the Czech Republic last year, responsible for around a quarter of the record 1.24 million cars (a rise of 10.5 percent on the previous year) that rolled off production floors.
Traditional market leader Škoda Auto accounted for roughly half of that output, while the Kolín-based Toyota Peugeot Citroen Automobile Czech (TPCA) produced the remainder.
TPCA boasted the most impressive growth rate of the big three in 2014 after its second generation small vehicles presented last year (the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1) proved successful.
Spokesman Javier Varela told the newspaper E15 that the market for small cars in Europe was very competitive and that the company was glad to see its “triplets” thriving.
The key industry has shown no signs of moving down a gear in 2015, with overall production to May reaching 552,000, six percent more than in the same period last year. Again TPCA has been advancing fastest, with a massive 43 percent jump in production.
The Volkswagen owned Škoda Auto also has reasons to be cheerful, having enjoyed the most bountiful May in the firm’s 120-year history. The domestic number one delivered over 92,500 cars to customers around the world in the fifth month of the year.
Škoda’s surge can be in part attributed to its small model. The latest generation Fabia sold 35 percent more in Europe than its predecessor did in May 2014. Executives at the Mladá Boleslav company say they hope their new Superb can work similar wonders.
The only dark cloud for Škoda is in the East. Board member Werner Eichhorn was quoted by E15 as saying the situation remained “critical” in Russia and neighbouring states.