The Czech Republic has transformed into a stable economy, with sales of 176,230 new cars in 1996.
All major carmakers are represented. There are 1,035 dealerships - 922 main dealers and 112 sub-dealers.
Local producer Skoda has the biggest network, with 233, and a 50 percent market share. Second largest is Renault, which has a two-tier network, with 30 main dealers and 50 sub-dealers.
Most efficient is Opel, which captures 6.5 percent of the market with just 25 dealers. Opel dealers sell an average of 460 cars a year. Import duties are 19 percent except for EU-and CEFTA-made cars, which are subject to 11.4 percent tax. This will be cut to 7.4 percent in 1999 and zero in 2001.
Hungary operates a complicated tariff system, with non-EU or non-CEFTA cars subject to duties of up to 43 percent if they have engines over 2.0 liters. These will be reduced progressively to zero in 2001.
The market was 86,183 cars in 1986, and there are 775 main dealers with 120 sub-agents.
Opel and Suzuki, the leading local producers, have the biggest shares - 19.6 percent and 15.8 percent respectively. Opel has a more efficient network of only 60 dealers compared to Suzuki's 120. Most manufacturers have networks of 25-60 dealers.
Poland accounts for 49 percent of sales in the five CEFTA countries. And the car market is growing rapidly - up 41 percent in 1996 against 1995 to 396,474 units. Altogether, 11 manufacturers control 88 percent of the market, and a 'Big 6' is emerging.
The two clear leaders are Fiat, with a 41.5 percent share, and Daewoo, which bought the local FSO plant in 1994 and now has 24.5 percent of the market.
The other strong players are: Opel, which is building a plant; Skoda, which has CKD assembly in Poznan; Ford, which also has a CKD plant; and Renault, which has no plans to build a factory but was quick to set up dealers in the country.
Daewoo's network is the biggest - 317 FSO dealers, with average annual sales per dealer of 307 cars. More impressive is Fiat, with sales of 1,699 cars through each of its 97 outlets.
Slovakia's economy is one of the strongest in the region, with the lowest rate of inflation: 6 percent. Car ownership is around 200 cars per 1,000 people - twice the regional average.
Skoda is market leader (29 percent) followed by Daewoo (14 percent) and Volkswagen (9.2 percent). VW Group has 43.5 percent in total. Skoda has the biggest network - 67 dealers - followed by Seat with 29, many dualled with Skoda. Fiat and Opel have the most impressive annual sales per dealer levels - 631 and 539 respectively.
Slovenia is dominated by Renault, which has had a factory there for more than 30 years. The market in 1996 was 66,360 cars, and Renault controls 25 percent of it through a two-tier network of 24 main dealers and 46 sub-dealers.
The most efficient network in terms of annual sales per dealer is Opel, with 460 cars per dealer.
The Romanian new car market was 111,724 units last year. Local manufacturers dominate, notably Dacia, which builds cars based on the ancient Renault 12. Dacia sold 81,308 vehicles in 1996, giving it a 73 percent share.
Daewoo is second, with 20.3 percent. Daewoo bought Oltcit in 1993 and started building Cielo sedans last year alongside the old Oltcit Axel model. Local sales reached 22,681 last year and are likely to rise substantially as volumes build up at the plant.
The other local manufacturer, ARO, builds 4x4 vehicles and sold 4,355 cars last year.
No importer sold more than 500 cars - Skoda, at 498 units, was the top performer, and most import dealer networks are in single figures. Hyundai is the biggest with 19, followed by Renault with 13.
The biggest obstacle to imports are huge numbers of used-car imports - approximately 750,000 between 1990 and 1996. Many are reimported Dacias and Oltcits from other east European nations. Around 110,000 used VW, Ford, Fiat, Opel and Renault cars were also imported.
The biggest market in the region is also the most complicated to enter due to legal and taxation problems. Inflation, which peaked at 1,350 percent in 1992, fell to 50 percent in 1996 and is expected to fall to around 20 percent this year.
AutoVAZ still dominates, with a large and formerly state-owned dealer network of 185 main dealers and 318 sub-dealers. Data regarding other Russian brands, Moskvitch, Izhmash, GAZ and Kamaz, is not available.