It will take years to the country to fully recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and the cooperation of the private sector along with government and employees is key to a successful recovery, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Monday in Győr during a visit to the Audi engine plant there, which serves as one of the four pillars of foreign automotive presence in Hungary.
“The economic effect of the coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact even on such global leaders of the automotive industry like Audi, and it is obvious that rebooting the economy, including the self-sufficient Audi plant, requires government assistance,” Orbán said at the Audi complex just outside Győr, northwestern Hungary.
Together with Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics, he was there on the occasion of Audi returning to full three-shift production. As the pandemic spread across Europe, Audi, like its other automotive peers shut down the plant on March 23 and resumed one-shift production on April 14 with the aim to gradually return to full capacity.
“The government will do everything to [ensure] that every worker and engineer at the Audi plant can be secure, [and] the cabinet is ready to also offer financial support for the return to full capacity,” Orbán said, without specifying what form the government’s financial assistance will have. Back in April, when the Hungarian government began to formulate its economic recovery plans, Orbán said that this year the country will devote 20 percent of its GDP to the recovery.
Orbán added that it could take one or two years before the large industrial producers of Hungary can return to formulating plans that exceed pre-pandemic levels, pointing out that Audi’s continued commitment to Hungary and the €11 billion it invested so far in the country will be “part of that success story.”
Orbán also urged employers and employees to strive for “good agreements” that lead to the preservation of jobs.
Alfons Dintner, chairman of the board of Audi Hungária, was more reserved, saying that his company is currently far from pre-pandemic levels as new car demand is only picking up slowly.
Last year, Audi’s Hungarian plant produced 1.97 million engines and 164,807 cars, both figures representing a two-thirds increase over 2018. At the end of last year, the factory had 12,807 employees. The Győr factory is also the largest engine plant of German automotive group Volkswagen to which Audi belongs.
Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the Audi assembly line in Győr, northwestern Hungar. (MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák)