2013-12-30 04:00:16 - New Transportation research report from Business Monitor International is now available from Fast Market Research
Although the domestic autos market in Serbia is far from developed, we believe that the Serbian autos production segment is set to establish its reputation as a highly competitive manufacturing base in the Eastern European region. Its proximity to high potential markets such as Russia, improving export ties with the EU and the hefty investments from Fiat will be key factors helping the production segment recover to pre-1999 levels.
Even by our modest forecast of 1.4% year-on-year (y-o-y) average annual growth between 2013 and 2017, we expect autos production to reach nearly 28,000 units by the end of our forecast - more than double the levels seen back in 1999. 2013 is poised to be a crucial year for the Serbian
autos exports segment as well. With Fiat beginning exports of its Serbian-made cars to the US market from June 2013, Serbian total exports are expected to expand by an impressive 25% y-o-y, to EUR11bn in 2013. Car exports alone will stand between EUR1.5bn and EUR2bn.
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It is therefore not surprising that international suppliers and carmakers are rushing to establish their presence in the still immature market.
In October 2013, Finnish auto cable company PKC Group said it intends to open a production facility in the Serbian city of Smederevo. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the representatives of PKC, the Serbian government and the government of Smederevo city. The project will represent an investment of EUR8mn (US$10.94mn) by 2016 and will employ 1,500 workers. The project is also supported by SIEPA, the Customs Administration and the Free Zones Administration.
Meanwhile, German automaker Mercedes-Benz is scheduled to enter into a strategic partnership with Belgrade Serbian company Ikarbus. The partnership will be reached with the help of the Serbian government. Under the deal, Ikarbus will manufacture bus superstructures based on Mercedes' chassis and in association with Mercedes' management. The bus superstructures will not only cater to the Serbian market, but also the third markets.
In August 2013, Huanghai Auto, the bus unit of Chinese vehicle and component manufacturer SG Automotive Group, expressed interest in acquiring the truck and special purpose vehicle factories of Zastava. Huanghai Auto is open to a cooperation deal with Zastava at the outset, following which it is keen on participating in the privatisation of the Serbian company's Kamioni and Specijalna Vozila units.
In June 2013, French tyre manufacturer Michelin revealed plans to build another facility in the Serbian town of Pirot for EUR170mn (US$227.50mn). The facility will manufacture pneumatic tyres, which will be exported to the European, African and Asian markets. The facility will boost Michelin's annual production in the country from the current 8mn tyres, to 12mn tyres. With similar intentions, US-based car parts manufacturer Cooper Standard purchased land in Sremska Mitrovica to construct a production facility by end-2013. Sealing systems and car parts from plastic and rubber will be manufactured at the facility, scheduled to be launched in January 2014. Additionally, Johnson Electric will build a factory for electric motors in the Serbian city of Nis as part of a memorandum of understanding signed between Serbia's Minister of Finance and Economy Mladjan Dinkic and Johnson Electric Director for Europe Laurent Cardon. Johnson Electric will invest EUR15mn (US$19.51mn) during the first phase of the project.
On the demand side, however, there is little room for optimism. Unemployment will remain an impediment to household spending, as will declining real net wages. We accordingly estimate a further 8% year-on-year (y-o-y) fall in autos sales in 2013, which will be followed by a modest 3% y-o-y growth in 2014. Growth in vehicle demand in the medium and longer term will also struggle to pick up pace, thanks to country's fast-ageing population - with as much as 21.3% likely to be aged over 60 by 2015 - and poor road infrastructure.
Owing to the small size of its autos industry, Serbia ranks lowest in BMI's Risk-Reward Ratings for the autos industry in Europe, but a slew of recent investments in the country's autos industry - particularly on the supply side - pose significant upside risks to its score. Serbia is particularly appealing because of its advantageous geographical position, which allows easy access to the rest of Europe, and a low-cost and abundant supply of skilled labour.
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