Automotive Poland: Good investment climate for the automotive industry

Author / Editor: Robert Ocetkiewicz / Susanne Hertenberger

Foreign automotive concerns may rely on the friendly business environment in Poland whilst the country itself has a few attributes which make it one of the best locations in the region.

An engine being transported in the Toyota plant in Wałbrzych
An engine being transported in the Toyota plant in Wałbrzych
(Bild: Toyota)

Every few months on average, information circulates in the media about another big investment of the automotive industry in Poland. Some of them get executed whilst others move ultimately to the markets of competitors – usually Czech, Slovak and Romanian. It was the case with the Jaguar plant for which the former minister of economy Janusz Piechociński fought. That ostentatiously announced investment turned out to be a fiasco. Poland lost to Slovakia and lost the opportunity for approx. PLN 6 billion being invested within its borders. This, however, does not mean that the local automotive industry is in bad shape.

Increased sales

The latest data published by KPMG and PZPM indicate that in the first quarter of this year over 210k of new cars were registered in Poland which equates to the growth of 18% year over year. This result was largely influenced by investments carried out by companies, but a small revival is also noticeable amongst individual clients (II quarter of this year resulted in the growth in this segment on the level of 5.7% year on year). Interestingly, Poles are increasingly choosing more expensive cars of premium makes.

In the first half of 2016 registration of premium makes grew by no less than 31.8% year on year whilst the sales of popular makes grew by 17%. In the same segment, the domination of institutional buyers was clearly visible: there were 33.8% more of them compared to the year before, comments Jakub Faryś, the president of the Polish Automotive Industry Association (PZPM).

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Production also up

At the same time, the growing sales of new cars drives the sales of parts and accessories as well as encourages foreign investors to place their production in Poland. As it emerges from the report of KPMG and PZPM, in the first quarter of 2016, the total number of vehicles produced here was 378.4k, i.e. 4.7% more year on year. In addition, the export of automotive products increased. In the first quarter of this year, it reached EUR 7.6 billion which equates to growth of 3.8% year on year. It was mainly driven by the sales of components, parts and automotive accessories as well as engines.

However, Poland has lost the position of the leader in Central-Eastern Europe in terms of vehicle production output. Czechs, Slovaks and Romanians draw foreign investors much more efficiently - even that last country manufactures almost as many cars as Poland. Nevertheless, Poland maintained the first position in production of parts, components and automotive accessories. It is also the biggest producer of delivery trucks in the region.

Positive prognoses

The prognoses for the years to come are optimistic: The European Association of Car Producers increased the forecast dynamics of car sales in the EU in 2016 from 2 to 5%. The positive moods should also be felt in Poland, especially since other investments are already under way, stimulated by the country’s attractive location on the map of potential locations for investing capital within the automotive sector – mainly due to high quality of production, low labour costs and favourable geographical location with regards to Western Europe.

The representatives of the automotive industry have themselves spoken favourably about the possibilities for development in Poland. In the third edition of ‘Assessment of opinions and moods from the representatives of the Automotive industry’ carried out by Exact Systems, no fewer than 59% of the respondents announced the growth of production in the coming months. Hence, there is no lack of optimism which should continue to stimulate the desire to invest by the Vistula River.

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SEZ key to development

Many investors locate their centres within Special Economic Zones as they provide them with various tax deductions and other supplements, e.g. to employee remuneration. A very good example of that is the SEZ INVEST-PARK of Wałbrzych which gathers 179 companies, including 49 from the automotive industry. The latter employ over 46% of the zone’s employees whilst the total value of their investment exceeded EUR 2.1 billion. Within the Wałbrzych’s SEZ, the biggest investment came from the Japanese brand Toyota Motor Manufacturing which manufactures engines and gearboxes in Wałbrzych. However, the zone does not lack smaller entities, either.

It is mainly the sub-suppliers or sub-cooperation partners of bigger players which function in Poland as well as in Slovakia or the Czech Republic. The area of southern Poland is particularly interesting for investors from those sectors due to its close proximity to the borders with Germany, Czech Republic or Slovakia – explains the Director of the Investor Service Department of the Invest-Park Special Economic Zone in Wałbrzych Beata Rzemyszkiewicz.

Companies get driven by others

The companies investing in Poland, encourage other entities or follow their footsteps. When a new plant was opened in Opole by Polaris, an American quad manufacturer, new investors willing to start cooperation in the region appeared immediately. This trend drives the market and causes the automotive industry to gain strength.

Of course, Toyota is not the only investor to have started production in Poland recently. For example, it is worth mentioning last year’s start of Mubea Automotive Poland within the KSSE Special Economic Zone in Ujazd near Olszowa. The company invested EUR 25 billion within the zone and created 350 new jobs.

While, in April this year, the Polish production was started by Nexteer Automotive concern which specializes in manufacturing of steering systems. In January, works were also started by the producer of wiring systems PKC Group in Białogard.

The industry’s future

Development of the automotive industry is confirmed not only by new plants being opened but also by development of the existing plants. Cooper Standard Poland which manufactures car sealing systems, is planning to employ another 700 people in its plant. One can also expect further development of the engine factory for Volkswagen delivery trucks. The competition is not staying behind, either: in two years’ time the General Motors plant in Tychy is to start the production of new 4-cylinder drive units for the concern’s vehicles. Investments are also being planned by smaller investments such as Alege Poland which has announced the development of a modern plant manufacturing plastic car interior elements.

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