The proportion of manufacturing industry in the economy of the Czech Republic is the biggest among all EU countries. And within that, the auto sector is by far and away the most important, accounting for around a third of all industrial production with the figure showing no sign of falling. But the sector is very much at a crossroads with immediate and longer term challenges putting a question mark over continued growth. Zdeněk Petzl is acting director of the Czech Automobile Industry Association. Chris Johnstone of Radio Praha asked him how the first half of the year appears so far.
… it’s probably fair to say that the Czech Republic has not been in the lead with regard to electric cars. Overall, these big changes mean that technologies and know-how that have been developed here won’t be applicable so much in the future and that new plants can perhaps grow elsewhere…?
ʺYou are absolutely right, something has to be done because these changes are transforming the whole industry as it is. This is why we have started working on a memorandum with the Czech government. The memorandum should bring a mutual understanding as to what the changes are and what needs to be done to tackle those changes. Obviously, our companies will have to orientate much more on electronics and IT production and they are, even in these days. For example, look at the company Brisk, they have been known for their world famous spark plugs but they have also been producing sensors and coming up with solutions for general services based on the use of these sensors. Our industry is understanding the changes and is adapting itself and what needs to happen to trickle those change into the rest of the Czech economy and every company that is part of our industry is promote more research and development and talk more about what these changes actually mean. This is what we are trying to achieve as part of the memorandum…"
That memorandum, you are hoping that it will be signed in September…?
ʺWe hope it will be signed by the current government so that the incoming government will have something actually to build on because, as you said, there is not time to lose. If we lose time we might also lose a significant part of the industry."
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Read also Radio Praha's article Czech auto production sets records as boom continues.