The Hungarian automotive industry weathered the coronavirus pandemic better than almost any other European country, László György, the state minister of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology, said at a Budapest industry conference.
György stated that while in March, the average decline in the European car production was slightly over 30 percent, in Hungary it was only 19.8 percent. In mid-March, all four major multinational car producers came to a halt in tandem with stoppages all over the continent.
While the average industrial downtime in Europe was 29 working days, in Hungary it was only 22 days. The only country where the stoppage was shorter was in Sweden, where the government decided to weather the pandemic with far fewer restrictive measures, resulting in only 15 days lost due to work stoppages in the automotive sector.
In contrast, however, with a population roughly similar to Hungary (10.2 vs 9.9 million), the coronavirus pandemic in Sweden so far claimed 4,029 casualties compared with 499 in Hungary. Sweden now has one of the highest per capita death rates in Europe.
György also said that since the Hungarian government introduced its job protection scheme whereby it would cover part of the wages of employees not fired, companies had been granted 17 billion forints (€48.5 million) to maintain 105,000 jobs, most of them in the manufacturing sector, which includes the automotive industry.
The four major multinational automotive manufacturers present in Hungary are Audi, Mercedes, Opel and Suzuki, with BMW also slated to open a factory in Debrecen in eastern Hungary towards the end of next year or possibly slightly later due to investment delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The four major car manufacturers present in Hungary account for just over 10 percent of the total GDP and 29 percent of total manufacturing output.
Title image: Mercedes assembly line in Kecskemét, Central Hungary. (source: Mercedes/Szilárd Dudar)