BMW quits, Toyota-Peugeot may come

The Central Bohemian town of Kolin suffered a severe disappointment this week as the German car maker BMW decided not to build a factory in the town's industrial zone. However, the serious interest by such a large investor earned Kolin respect and other investors are already knocking on the door to fill the vacant space. Vladimir Tax reports.

German car maker BMW has decided not to build a factory in the Central Bohemian town of Kolin and opted for East German Leipzig instead. Kolin was one of the five hottest candidates for the investment, together with one French town and three German towns which were selected from 250 locations around the globe. The BMW's 2-billion-German-mark plant is expected to create up to 10,000 new jobs, both on site and at suppliers.

The head of the CzechInvest agency, Martin Jahn, said the decision was politically, not economically motivated. He stressed that the industrial zone in Kolin was excellent and will be offered to other investors.

Prior to the announcement of BMW's decision, reports emerged that the Czech Republic has already started courting Japanese Toyota Motor Corp. which together France's Peugeot, expressed interest in building a car assembly plant in Eastern Europe. Mr. Jahn visited Japan this week to meet with Toyota officials and present them investment opportunities in the Czech Republic. The Toyota-Peugeot plant would require an investment between 500 million and 1 billion euros and could produce about 200,000 cars a year.

Regional representatives in Central Bohemia have of course been disappointed by the negative decision by BMW. However, despite the failure to attract the top investor, the town of Kolin will go ahead with building the industrial zone. Kolin Mayor Zdenka Majerova said there were many other investors knocking at the door, because the fact that Kolin made it to the final round of BMW's tender, gave it an excellent reputation on the European scale.