BUDAPEST -- Audi's expansion plans in Hungary have come under scrutiny after a local environmental group appealed against the land use permit issued to the automaker, news agency MTI reported.
Audi plans a 900-million-euro expansion of its Gyor plant in western Hungary to lift production to 125,000 vehicles a year, once it begins full production from 2013.
The automaker currently builds the A3 cabriolet, TT coupe and TT roadster at the plant and plans to produce the RS3 sportback and A3 sedan there too, creating 1,800 new jobs and giving a major boost to Hungary's export-driven economy.
The land use permit is a precondition for Audi to get full planning permission for the expanded plant, MTI said on Thursday.
It said the green group that filed the appeal was concerned that wildlife in the affected area -- which also includes part of a nature reserve – could be disturbed.
The group also says the ruling that approved the land use for the site contained procedural errors.
A Hungarian spokeswoman for Audi was not immediately available for comment. The National Environmental Protection Authority could not immediately comment.
In January, the European Commission approved the extension of the plant on the grounds of paramount public interest.
Opel, Daimler expand in Hungary
Earlier this month, the Hungarian government approved 11.2 billion forints ($62.88 million) of direct subsidies for Audi's expansion and another 5.5 billion forints for General Motors Co.'s Opel. Last year, the two carmakers announced expansion plans at their plants in the western Hungarian towns of Gyor and Szentgotthard worth a combined 1.4 billion euros.
Daimler AG's new 800-million-euro Mercedes plant in the central town of Kecskemet is also expected to start production in 2012.
Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy said earlier this month, that these three projects combined would add 2 percentage points to the contribution of the car sector to Hungarian GDP, lifting it to about 5 percent of economic output from 3.1 percent.
That will also boost the contribution of car exports from 16 percent to 18 percent of all Hungarian exports in the years ahead, he said.