BUCHAREST - Romanian car market had an 'unexpected evolution' in the first half of 1998, said Marius Carp, director of the country's Association of Car Makers and Importers.
'While new car sales increased 28 percent, output went down 9 percent compared to the same period of 1997.'
Carp said production last year was a record, but ARO and Daewoo built up large stocks. 'Consequently, the two companies produced less in 1998,' said Carp. Output at ARO was 84 percent of 1997 levels, while Daewoo made only 25 percent of its 1997 production.
Only Dacia Co., Romania's largest carmaker, increased output in the first half of 1998. Dacia was up 11 percent compared to 1997.
'Dacia Co. reached its highest ever production level, 52,419 units in the first 6 months of 1998, and is likely to meet the targeted 105,000-unit output this year,' said Paul Schiaucu, president of Romania's auto industry association.
New car sales increased 28 percent to 68,680 units in the first half of 1998, reaching their highest ever level.
Sales were boosted by Daewoo's discounted prices as it tried to liquidate stocks.
Daewoo sold 9,476 Romanian-built cars locally, while Dacia sold 42,258 units.
Import sales were up sharply, reaching 8,203 units in the first half of 1998.
'This was mainly due to the marketing success of the Daewoo Tico model, sold at a discount price close to that of the Dacia cars,' said Carp.
The base Dacia model sells for $3,500. The top of the range model costs $5,000. Daewoo offered the Tico in two versions costing $4,700 and $5,650.
Other importers sold 2,950 units. The top three were Volkswagen with 669, Skoda with 584 and Ford with 354.
'A significant increase of car output is expected in the second half of 1998,' said Carp. 'This growth will be due mainly to Daewoo, which liquidated its inventories and saw an increasing demand for its products.'
He said production increases are also likely when Daewoo begins building its new Matiz and Nubira models.
Romanian car exports fell by almost half in the first half of 1998 to 3,541 units. The second half is expected to show some improvement, said Carp.
'Dacia Co. will start exporting to China this fall and there is also export potential for the Matiz and Nubira.'