“The Hungarian automotive industry is moving up a level; the goal is for Hungary to also be a frontrunner in technological development in addition to production”, Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics said at the official opening of the Automotive Hungary international automotive industry suppliers’ expo on Wednesday.

At the expo, which is being held at the Hungexpo Exhibition Centre in Budapest, the Minister, who is the event’s chief patron, added that the Government is providing support to enable Hungarian-owned small and medium-sized enterprises to also produce the highest possible added value within production and value chains in the automotive industry, and to be capable of appearing on the market with their own intellectual products.

Mr. Palkovics, stressed that the automotive industry is the engine of the Hungarian economy and is enabling economic growth to remain stably above 4 percent.

He highlighted the fact that Hungary is a favourable location for the automotive industry, as indicated by the development projects being realised by the car factories already present here.

Mr. Palkovics also spoke about the fact that the international and domestic automotive industries are facing major challenges and changes, citing as an example the implementation of significant reductions in the pollutant emissions of motor vehicles.

The Minister highlighted the fact that digitalisation and Industry 4.0 is also bringing with it the linking of various sectors of industry within vehicle production, and 5G technology and Big Data is enabling real-time communication between vehicles, which in turn enables the more efficient exploitation of existing road infrastructure and a reduction in traffic and the number of accidents.

Mr. Palkovics emphasised that supporting research & development and innovation is one of the priority strategic goals of Hungarian economic policy.

He told reporters that Hungary spent 1.22 percent of its GDP, over 427 billion forints (EUR 1.3bn) for this purpose in 2016. According to preliminary data, R&D expenditure in Hungary increased by 21.1 percent in 2017, reaching 517.3 billion forints (EUR 1.6bn), which is equivalent to 1.35 percent of GDP.

The Minister for Innovation and Technology also mentioned that in recent years an average of 500,000 cars have been manufactured annually in Hungary, and this number will be increasing in future thanks to the latest investment by BMW.

According to the Minister, the decision by BMW to establish a factory in Hungary confirms the fact that Hungarian economic policy is on the right track, that it was worth introducing Europe’s lowest rate of corporation tax of 9 percent, as well as dual training.

At the opening ceremony, CEO of Hungexpo Cls. Gábor Ganczer said there is a revolution ongoing within car production, the sector is realising a significant level of innovation, Industry 4.0 has reached the sector and has become the engine of change, and the Automotive Expo and the related events are following this process.

236 exhibitors from 15 countries are showcasing themselves at the event, and the organisers expect over ten thousand visitors. The conferences being held on the sidelines of the Expo are centred on artificial intelligence, 3D printing, electric drives and Industry 4.0. Automotive Hungary’s partner events include the Car Technology and Digital Car expo, and the Techtogether competition, which reinforces the link between the automotive industry and university students.

For the first time this year, Hungexpo Cls. launched the Automotive Hungary Expo innovation award competition in four categories, and the awards were presented at the opening ceremony. The Expo’s Innovation Grand Prix awards were presented to Hoffmann Hungary Quality Tolls Limited in the tool category, Varinex IT Cls. in the software category, and Stratasys GmbH in the 3D printing category. A special award was presented to Vendinvest Hungary Limited.