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Reuters: Bulgaria produces car parts for 1 billion euro

May 9, 2014


The location of the Bulgarian town Ruse on the southeastern edge of Europe is helping to attract investors such as Witte Automotive, a German car part maker that supplies majors including Ford, reported Reuters.


Witte is one of dozens of foreign companies, from Japan to South Africa, driving an auto component manufacturing boom that could lift the fortunes of Bulgaria. Bulgaria is hungry for new, sustainable foreign investment after a real estate bubble burst during the financial crisis in 2009.


"The industry is growing, and the interest is growing too," said Till Truckenmueller, the chairman of Automotive Cluster Bulgaria, an industry group, in an interview in Sofia. "There are decisions by the big players in the past several years to have new plants here."

"We are working on bringing a car manufacturer here," he said. "Be sure, if we convince one, then the automotive industry here will explode."


As a sign of the changing times, Witte's Bulgaria unit will move to a much larger factory this year. It plans to double its existing workforce of around 260 workers and expects sales to rise to more than 25 million euros ($35 million) in 2014, from modest beginnings of less than 1 million euros in 2010.


"The group will grow, definitely quite significantly, and the main growth will be here in Bulgaria," said Tomas Jindra, Witte's Bulgaria CEO said at the company's Ruse factory.


Similarly, exports in the sector overall have doubled to around 1 billion euros in the past five years, Bulgarian industry officials say, making up about 4.5 percent of total exports and 2.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product.


More firms are planning either to expand operations or enter the market for the first time.

France's Montupet recently built a second production unit, while Johnson Controls has more than 500 engineers in Sofia that design instrument panels and infotainment systems. Global part suppliers like U.S. firm Sensata, Canada's Magna International, Japan's Yazaki and Sumitomo Electric have set up operations.