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Made in Hungary: a New Hub of Premium Compact Car Production

Brands and nationalism play a huge part in the auto industry. In Europe, it mainly comes down to German, French and "import" models from Asian brands. But once you start to look more closely, the shades of gray start to appear. Korean cars are actually made in Germany and French ones in Spain.
Hungary: the home of Audi and Mercedes 1 photo
Photo: original image by autoevolution
Far from being "Japanese", most Honda and Nissan models are made in the UK. In fact, the British auto industry is not dead, as some most believe. Morris Minors and Rovers have been replaced by Opels and McLarens for export. The country is well known for being at the forefront of industrialization, so Civic production in Swindon or Qashqais from Sunderland shouldn't surprise us.

But a little country from Central Europe could become the next big hub of car production. Hungary is known for paprika peppers, old bridges over the Danube in the capital of Budapest and Attila the Hun. It only has a population of 10 million people, as much as New York. And yet this is where both Mercedes and Audi make their compact premium cars.

The Mercedes-Benz star logo appeared on the Hungary map in March 2012. To put it there, the German company invested over €800 million to create a hub of production for compacts built on the MFA platform, starting with the B-Class and followed by the A- and CLA-Class. All have been hugely popular in Europe and abroad. Mercedes has actually said it can't keep up with demand for the CLA four-door coupe from America.

For the automaker, it means savings in cost, since Hungarians are paid much less than their German counterparts. On the other side of the coin, the city of Kecskemet and its population have a lot to gain, not only from the thousands of jobs created, but also from the spending and the arrival of hundreds of German employees and their families.

Audi tells us much the same story. Their division "Audi Hungaria Motor kft." owns and runs a large factory in the city of Gyor, where they make the TT sports coupe and convertible, the A3 Cabriolet and A3 Limousine/Sedan.

The factory opened two decades ago in 1994 also makes the majority of Audi engines, about 2 million of them per year. After its acquisition by the German company, Lamborghini also sourced its V10 cylinder blocks for the Gallardo from Hungary.

In 2009, Audi launched the TT RS, a hot coupe offering 340 hp from a 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder and quattro all-wheel drive. It was the first RS model in Audi history not to be made by the quattro GmbH in Neckarsulm. That's right, it's also made in Gyor.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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