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Slovak auto sector expects moderate growth this year

Carmakers in Slovakia will probably assemble a record number of vehicles this year as demand for models made in the country is set to defy a slowing automotive market in Europe, an industry body estimated. The total number of cars produced in Slovak factories operated by Volkswagen AG, Kia Motors Corp and PSA Peugeot Citroen will “slightly” exceed the 926,555 vehicles assembled last year, Jaroslav Holecek, president of the Slovak Car Industry Association, told journalists Wednesday in Bratislava. He declined to give an exact estimate, adding it will be less than 1 million. Slovakia’s car production jumped to a record last year after the addition of the so-called New Small Family subcompact models doubled output at Volkswagen’s factory in Bratislava. Local car makers’ focus on small, eco-friendly cars and diversified non-EU export markets help producers weather low demand from the 27-member bloc. “The smaller and cheaper cars, produced in Slovakia, are ideal for times of crisis,” AFP quoted Slovak Academy of Sciences analyst Vladimir Balaz as saying. Most of the cars assembled in Slovakia are exported to other EU members, along with Russia and China.