History of the automotive investments in Bulgaria

  • 2020

  • 2019

  • 2018

    Automotive Cluster Bulgaria gab den Start des Baus des Automotive R&D Center im Wert von 45 Millionen Euro bekannt.

  • 2017

    Yazaki hat eine Fabrik für Kabel und Kabelbäume mit Kapazität von 5000 Arbeitsplätzen eröffnet.

  • 2017

    Visteon eröffnet R&D Zentrum in Sofia mit Kapazität von 1000 Ingenieuren.

  • 2016

    Sensata opens its second plant in the Maritsa Industrial Zone.

  • 2015

    Behr-Hella Thermocontrol GmbH (BHTC) opens in Bozhurishte Industrial Zone. The German company is one of the key OEMs for Lamborghini, Porsche, Bugatti, Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Ford and Renault.

  • 2015

    The factory of Standard Profil in Stara Zagora doubles production capacity with an additional building.

  • 2014

    The manufacture of Great Wall Hover H6 and special versions of the pickup Steed started. ALC opens a second plant near Ihtiman. 24,331 new passenger vehicles are sold.

  • 2013

    According to the Financial Times the Bulgarian automotive industry becomes an example of successful development, the sector sales exceed 1 billion euros and more than 5% of the total country’s export. 24,953 new vehicles are registered.

  • 2012

    The “Litex Motors” automotive factory near the village of Bahovitsa, manufacturer of the Chinese “Great Wall” cars, officially starts working. The models coming from the assembly line are the compact “Voleex C10”, the SUV “Hover H5” and the pickup “Steed”. In Sliven, “Yazaki” prepares for the production of wiring sets for Ford. The supplier for “BMW ALC” opens a factory for leather seats in the village of Musachevo, near the town of Elin Pelin.

  • 2011

    “Trakia Glass Bulgaria” opens a factory for car windows in Targovishte. Its products are used in Dacia, Skoda, Audi, BMW and other car models. “Teklas” opens a second plant for rubber and plastic components in Kardzhali.

  • 2009

    The “Vitte Automotive” factory in Ruse starts manufacturing locking mechanisms for car hoods, size compensators and other components.

  • 2008

    The aluminum component factory in Ruse, part of the French “Montupet” group officially starts working. The plant produces cylinder heads and suspension components for Audi, BMW / PSA and Renault.

  • 2007

    The Japanese corporation “Yazaki” builds a factory for automotive wiring equipment in Yambol. It produces components for Renault.

  • 2006

    “Melexis Bulgaria” starts a new factory in Sofia. The Turkish company “Teklas”, specialized in producing rubber and plastic car components, opens a manufacturing plant in Kardzhali.

  • 2005

    The first foreign investment of Standard Profil, Standard Profil Bulgaria starts operations in Stara Zagora.

  • 2004

    Opening of the “Sensor Nite” factory in Botevgrad. The plant manufactures and delivers temperature sensors to leading car manufacturers such as Volkswagen Group and Hyundai.

  • 2001

    “Johnson Controls” – the world’s leader in the area of automotive electronics and software, establishes a department in Sofia. Its activities are in the area of research and development of automotive products for Citroen, Nissan, Renault and others.

  • 2000

    “Melexis” – a Belgian company producing automotive electronic components, establishes a branch in Bulgaria which still successfully operates.

  • 1998

    The first Bulgarian SUV makes its debut – “Preslav”. It never enters mass production. One year later the “Chavdar” bus factory is shut down.

  • 1997

    Grammer buys the factory in the village of Trudovets, which produces seats and equipment for the buses "Chavdar". Today the plant numbers 1,100 employees and manufactures a wide range of seats for construction equipment, forklifts and trucks as well as components and systems for interior fittings of passenger cars. The production is being successfully exported to Germany, UK, USA, Turkey, China and Russia. The annual turnover of Grammer is €50 million, while the total amount of investments is €19 million for the period since 1997.

  • 1996

    A failed attempt for manufacturing of Skoda Beta – a car based on Hyundai. Zastava once again offers to manufacture “Yugo Florida” in Bulgaria, after closing the Rover plant. The sells drop to levels comparable to these from the 1950-s – 7600 new cars.

  • 1995

    The second large automotive project starts in Bulgaria. Production of Rover Maestro starts in Varna. The manufacturing process continues for six months and a total of 3641 cars are assembled.

  • 1994

    The production of light cargo vehicles NAMCO Ford Pony starts in Dupnitsa, and stops later the same year. Racho Dzhambazov, founder of the Botevgrad factory (later “Chavdar”) dies one year later.

  • 1989

    The joint Bulgarian-Yugoslavian consortium “Balkanavto” is established. Its purpose – to start manufacturing Zastava models in Bulgaria.

  • 1988

    The production of “Moskvich 2141 Aleko” starts in Lovech. A total of 37 450 cars are sold.

  • 1985

    Velizar Andreev reveals the “Sofia” sports car, which enters into a limited production until the early 1990-s. The factory “Klement Gottwald” in Dobrich starts assembling MAN diesel engines.

  • 1982

    “Madara” – Shumen starts manufacturing the light lorries Avia

  • 1979

    The production of Renault in Plovdiv is ceased. The only cars that remain in production in Bulgaria are Moskvich 1360 / 1500. The sell rates exceed 75 000 cars per year.

  • 1978

    Formula Ester – the first Bulgarian race car is built by the famous racer Boncho Dunev. “Balkancar” becomes the world’s leading manufacturer of lifting and transport vehicles.

  • 1977

    “Chavdar” starts manufacturing Setra busses

  • 1975

    The manufacturing levels of the factory in Lovech reaches 15 000 Moskvich cars per year. The cars in Bulgaria are over 1 million. In 1975 a total of 56 060 cars are sold.

  • 1970

    “Madara” – Shumen starts cooperating with the Czech factories LIAZ for manufacturing Skoda cargo vehicles. Later it focuses on rear axles. A new Chavdar bus, built under license from Kaesbohrer is shown in Plovdiv.

  • 1969

    A debut for the most impressive Bulgarian car to date – Bulgaralpin 1100

  • 1968

    The car “Hebros 1100” is designed. It is planned to replace Bulgarrenault-8 and Bulgarrenault-10, which are made in Plovdiv. SAAB offers to assemble cars in Bulgaria - a unique offer given the fact that SAAB never manufactured their models outside of Scandinavia. The offer is rejected. Madara plant in Shumen starts assembling GAZ and ZIL vehicles.

  • 1967

    Factory “Balkan” – Lovech starts assembling FIAT models – 850, 850 Coupe and 124 (later known as “Zhiguli”). The manufacturing lasts only four years.  During the Plovdiv fair another Balkan minibus prototype makes its debut. HIPKIEM designs a prototype of an electric car, named “Pioner 63”. VAMO – a factory based in Varna starts manufacturing diesel engines under license from the English company Perkins.

  • 1966

    The factory in Lovech starts assembling Moskvich cars. Botevgrad-based “Chavdar” plant launches a new bus model – M81 featuring a modern Bulgarian design.

  • 1965

    The first major automotive investment in Bulgaria made. The manufacture of Renault 8 - "Bulgarrenault" started in Plovdiv. Bulgaria and Poland are the first socialist countries with similar production.

  • 1962

    During the Plovdiv fair, Factory “Balkan” – Lovech demonstrates two new prototypes – a pickup truck and a minibus, both based on Volga. They also never enter into mass production.

  • 1961

    The first automotive commercial is published on the pages of a Bulgarian media – a commercial of Renault Dauphine in the “Avto-Moto” magazine.

  • 1960

    The first Bulgarian car – “Balkan 1200” makes its debut on the Plovdiv fair. The car is based on VW Kaefer and remains only a prototype, never entering into mass production.

  • 1957

    The “Shesti Septemvri” plant in Sofia assembles the first serial electrocars. “Balkancar” exports a total of 150 vehicles to USSR and Czechoslovakia.

  • 1956

    The former airplane factory in Lovech (renamed to Factory Balkan) manufactures the first Bulgarian motorcycle. According to a decision made on the Seventh session of CMEA, Bulgaria starts focusing on electrocar manufacturing.

  • 1952

    The workshop with Sofia’s tram depot launches the first Bulgarian electrocar.

  • 1951

    The assembly of Soviet trolley-busses MTB-82 starts in Sofia. The first vehicle is launched on 15th February.

  • 1949

    Attempt for truck manufacturing. “Factory 12” in Sofia assembles its first vehicle using parts of different vehicle models.

  • 1948

    The factory in Botevgrad is renamed to “Chavdar” and begins its partnership with Skoda RTO.

  • 1947

    Racho Dzambazov’s workshop is nationalized. Its first bus, built after the war, is shown during the Plovdiv fair. The factory’s pre-war manufacturing levels of 100 vehicles per year are reached in 1949.

  • 1939

    The first highway is built. It connects Plovdiv and Pazardzhik.

  • 1938

    Racho Dzhambazov’s workshop in Botevgrad improves its work - during a visit to the German bus plant Kässbohrer in the town of Ulm, Dzhambazov purchases new machinery. In 1938 a total of 478 vehicles are imported and the total count of the cars in Bulgaria reaches 2585.

  • 1937

    Ilchevi brothers – the importers of the brand International for Bulgaria, establish their own workshop in Varna and start assembling busses and other vehicles on International chassis. The first Bulgarian bus is launched on 27th May 1937, and it starts operating on the Varna-Burgas route.

  • 1929

    According to the “Yug” (South) newspaper, Henry Ford intends to visit Bulgaria and Turkey in regard to his plans to establish an automotive factory. He never visited Bulgaria but there is a car manufacturing plant in Turkey already. The “Bakish” company is established – this is the first Bulgarian manufacturer of tires. A total of 931 cars are imported.

  • 1926

    The newly-built airplane manufacturing plant in Kazanlak starts assembling vehicles on Chevrolet chassis. This undertaking goes for three years before its cancellation. In 1926 a total of 470 cars are imported to Bulgaria.

  • 1924

    Racho Dzhambazov, a local cart maker from Botevgrad starts manufacturing passenger vehicles. As a basis he uses decommissioned military ambulances’ and trucks’ chassis. A total of 219 cars are imported to Bulgaria during that year.