PSA Peugeot Citroën CEO Jean-Martin Folz has laid the cornerstone for the group’s new plant in Trnava, Slovakia, located 28 miles from the capital, Bratislava. The ceremony was attended by Slovak prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda, Trnava’s mayor Stefan Bosnak and several hundred guests.

Designed to extend PSA Peugeot Citroën’s production base in Europe, the Trnava plant will manufacture small Platform 1 vehicles beginning in 2006. It will have annual production capacity of 300,000 units and will employ 3,500 people working in three shifts. Building the plant and starting production of the first vehicle will represent a total investment of approximately 700 million euros.

The plant, to be built on a 470-acre site with excellent access to railways, highways and navigable waterways, will include stamping lines, body-in-white units, paint shops and assembly lines. An adjacent 136-acre site has been set aside for suppliers to build their own facilities.

The Trnava production facility will enable the group to move its manufacturing resources closer to markets in which sales are expanding rapidly. PSA Peugeot Citroën’s market share in the six central European countries (Croatia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia) totalled 13.6% at March 31, 2003, compared with 5% five years earlier. The group’s objective is to quickly achieve a share of the central European market in line with its share in Western Europe (16.3% in first-quarter 2003).

PSA Peugeot Citroën was Slovakia’s second-largest car maker in first-quarter 2003 with a market share of 15.1%, representing a 33.6% increase over the prior-year period. Peugeot is the country’s second best-selling brand with an 8.75% market share, up 25.8% year-to-year. Citroën, Slovakia’s fourth-largest brand, had a 6.35% share at March 31, 2003, a 46.2% increase from first-quarter 2002.

PSA Peugeot Citroën plans to sell four million vehicles in 2006, compared with 3,267,000 vehicles in 2002 and 2,100,000 in 1997.