Three Balkan states, including Romania, have joined a last-minute race to accommodate the future Volkswagen plant after the German car maker had announced to put its Turkish investment on hold. VW planned to open a EUR 1.3 billion factory in Turkey, but they have frozen any plans over the recent Turkish offensive in Syria.
VW had chosen Manisa, 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Izmir on Turkey’s western coast, for the plant, with production scheduled to start in 2022.
On Tuesday, the company said it had postponed the final decision on the factory’s site “amid international criticism of the country’s military operation in Syria and concerns about potential reputational fallout.”
Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia have immediately reacted to the announcement, voicing hope that Volkswagen will pick them instead.
Romania said it has started new talks to lobby for the investment, with Trade minister Stefan Radu Oprea revealing the government had initiated new talks with the WV Group.
Moreover, former Arad mayor, currently a Liberal MEP, Gheorghe Falca, told G4Media.ro that he had taken part early this year in official negotiations with Wolkswagen’s consultancy firm, which reviewed the bids from several Eastern European countries to build their announced factory.
Falcă even said that WK representatives had already chosen Arad as possible venue for the production unit, with the city hall providing a 11,000-hectare plot of land in this regard.
However, it seems Bulgaria have launched a better offer to the German carmaker, disclosing availability to double the subsidies available to VW to EUR 260 million from an initial EUR 135 M, as Rosen Plevneliev, a board member of the non-governmental Bulgarian Automotive Cluster, has said.
Although not a EU member, Serbia has also rushed to be taken into account.
An investment by VW would “help stabilize the whole region,” and benefit VW because the area still has qualified labor for the industry, Marko Cadez, head of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce said.
Volkswagen’s new plant is scheduled to produce the next-generation VW Passat and Skoda Superb midsize model, with the pledge of delivering 300,000 vehicles per year, according to Automotive News Europe.