Audi in Győr: a Hungarian success story
The Győr subsidiary belongs to Audi like Yin to Yang, or the Statue of Liberty to the USA — since 1993. Laszlo Juhász, assembly manager at Audi Hungaria, has been there since the very beginning. Audi author Andreas Witte discussed the Hungarian factory’s success story with him.
In 2018, the Audi Q3 – the first SUV model produced in Hungary – left the production line at Győr. Since the plant’s foundation in 1993, Audi Hungaria has produced over 33,000,000 engines, equivalent to 5.6 billion hp. Since 1998, more than one million cars have left the production line – if lined up side by side, they would stretch from Győr to Dakar. Audi could only have dreamed of this breath-taking development a quarter century ago. Audi author Andreas Wittke and Laszlo Juhász look back on an exciting time.
There since day one: Laszlo Juhász
No smartphone, no internet – the world was turning a little slower back then. I was eight years old and still playing with my matchbox cars and didn't really care about how real cars were built. Laszlo Juhász was 25 years old and indeed thought about that. He had just completed his mechanical engineering studies in Magdeburg and learned German. Now it was time for him to "conquer the world," as he puts it himself.
Today Laszlo Juhász is sitting opposite me as a mature, experienced man. The head of Audi Hungaria logistics has more than 1000 employees. In perfect German, he tells me how he found his way to Audi. "I read the 1993 job advertisement from Audi about the recently opened plant in Győr and I thought: 'They're looking for me'," Juhász recalls. He applied and received an invitation for an interview. After the interview, it was clear: he wanted Audi and Audi wanted him – but neither of them knew yet in which function. It was the beginning of a perfect relationship.
A large company in a small town: Audi Hungaria makes Győr "chic".
Juhász was hired as a logistics engineer and was given the number 9 - which means that he was the ninth employee to start at Audi Hungaria. He can still remember his first day as if it had been yesterday: "The first office was then on a house’s third floor. I arrived in a fine suit in the morning and the first thing I had to do was to carry furniture," he remembers with a smile. "In the beginning, we were ten young, cheeky engineers. "For us, the job at Audi was a huge opportunity."
A large company with a global reputation in a small town in Hungary – the construction of the plant changed a lot in the region. The infrastructure, for example, was expanded enormously: Today Győr is the junction between the West and the Balkans, located between Vienna and Budapest. The city centre itself has also changed: according to Juhász, Győr looks "much nicer” today. More and more service providers, restaurants and hotels have settled in the city, making it bigger and bigger. Today about 131,000 people live here, many of them Audi employees. Juhász himself lives in a small village just outside Győr. His wife and child also work at the plant. "Audi has given people new opportunities here," says Juhász. As of December 31, 2018, Audi Hungaria employed 13,084 people, and is expected to expand.
The company directly and indirectly secures jobs for 30,000 people. In the early 1990s, the unemployment rate in the region was around 20 percent, today it is almost full employment.
Audi also supports cultural and sporting activities in Győr, for example as sponsor of the successful women's handball team, the ballet or as a cooperation partner of the university in Győr. This is another reason why Audi enjoys an excellent reputation in Hungary. "Today, the whole country is proud of how the region has developed. The only thing nobody envies us for is the increase in prices," says Juhász with a smile.
Audis recipe for success: be diligent and curious
The plant reached a major milestone in 2001 with the opening of the engine development, and in 2013 Győr became a complete production plant. Laszlo Juhász has been developing along with Audi Hungaria: Since 1997, he has been working in management, today he is head of logistics.
When asked what distinguishes the employees of the plant in Győr, Juhász does not have to think long and explains with a smile: "We are young, hardworking and eager to learn. That's the secret of our success." Based on these skills, Audi Hungaria has developed from a medium-sized company to the largest engine plant for the Four Rings. Laszlo Juhász has contributed a great deal to this.
Audi in Hungary: Production at full blast
The anniversary year 2018 was an exciting year for the company. As previously mentioned, the series production of the Audi Q3 began. Győr has also begun series production of electric drives — an important future project. This makes Audi Hungaria a leader for electric motor production in the Audi Group, setting trends in the Hungarian automotive industry with electric mobility.
Audi Hungaria has been producing engines for the Audi and Volkswagen Group since 1994. Ever since then, the company has developed into the worldwide biggest engine plant. Until today, the employees in Győr have manufactured more than 30 million engines. In 2016, the 2.5 liters TFSI engine – produced in Audi Hungaria – has been awarded “International Engine of the Year” in the 2 to 2.5 liters category. The five-cylinder gasoline engine won the award for the seventh time in a row. The engine production’s range was extended in 2018 with the series production of electrical engines in Győr. The Competence Center for the production of the e-engines is already finished, the preparations for the start of the series production are in progress.
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