“Navigating the transformation of the bus industry in Hungary: expanding the product mix and upgrading along multiple dimensions”, Andrea Szalavetz (IWE CERS, Hungary)

Facing compressed and declining margins, the owner of a Hungarian bus manufacturer decided to venture into the electric city bus business. This company, once one of the largest bus manufacturers in the world, is currently medium-sized and in domestic-ownership. In 2019, the number of employees was 124, and turnover amounted to EUR 8.7 million (100 % domestic sales). The owner’s decision to diversify the product mix and develop electric buses was motivated by a perceived strong ‘tailwind’, promising a rapid improvement of business performance in a growing market. It is no surprise that there have been multiple foreign direct investment (FDI) transactions in the V4 countries over the past couple of years, by investors establishing plants specialised in the manufacturing of electric buses and components. Examples include BYD in Hungary and MAN in Poland. Domestic-owned manufacturers have also entered the electric bus business (e.g. SOR Libchavy in the Czech Republic and Solaris in Poland (Solaris has been acquired by the Spanish company CAF), since the market for electric buses is characterised by considerably higher profit margins than the market for diesel buses.

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