Serbia has a burgeoning supply chain as well as good transport links for logistics

Serbia has a burgeoning supply chain as well as good transport links for logistics

FCA Serbia purchasing says the emergence of new mobility solutions such as self-driving taxis and partnership with technology companies will drive business.

"We buy more than EUR70bn (US$83bn) globally in products and services," FCA Serbia purchasing director, Miodrag Ognjanovic told the CEE European Automotive Forum organised by Adam Smith Conferences in Prague recently.

"FCA purchases around 75% of content for [its] vehicles globally. We work with stakeholders to drive synergies and [manage] total cost. We are structured [in divisions such as] battery, exterior parts, raw materials, interior, electric, chassis, engine systems and powertrain.

"We introduced our collaboration with Google providing minivans, [while] we are planning in the near future to present autonomous, completely robot taxis. We are obviously oriented to this kind of project.

"We have more than 2,000 Group purchasing employees around the globe."

Addressing the same conference in the Czech capital, Kia Slovakia head of parts development, Michael Labaj outlined the sheer complexity of co-ordinating suppliers in his own country and globally.

"We have quite big autonomy to source suppliers in Europe," said Labaj, adding: "They listen to us and we could be successful with looking for new suppliers. That is why we take part [in CEE Prague] and what motivate [s] suppliers to contact us, to switch sourcing from Korea to Europe as many parts as possible.

"We have around 7,250 suppliers not only Tier 1, but Tier 2 and Tier 3."

The current status of Kia Slovakia and parts is 65% of the vehicle is already located in Europe."

Serbia is not part of the European Union, but it has a Free Trade Agreement with the EU, allowing product to be imported customs free.

Belgrade also provides incentives to automotive companies including commercial grants and tax free holidays, while some municipalities offer plant at reduced prices or free of charge.

Serbia is equally the only country outside the Commonwealth of Independent States, which has a Free Trade Agreement with Russia.

"Day by day we have talked about enlarging the supplier park in Serbia and [concerning] increasing demand about engineers, we see fortunately we don't' have a problem in Serbia," added the FCA purchasing director.

"We are putting in place many actions of strong cooperation with universities, so we have very young but good people in order to provide themselves with a good technical background."

There are myriad suppliers in Serbia, such as Delphi, Magna, Grammer, Continental and Lear, while Michelin is the largest component producer and investor in the country, ploughing in EUR400m (US$474m) and employing 3,000 staff.

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