, PRAGUE, Jul 4 – Sales of new passenger cars in the Czech Republic grew by 6.74 percent on an annual comparison to 94,233 units in the first half of 2012, trade data showed on Wednesday.
Skoda, the Czech unit of German group Volkswagen, was the top-selling marque with a 31-percent share of the market and 29,207 cars sold, followed by Hyundai, Volkswagen, Ford and Renault, the Car Importers Association said.
In 2011, Czech passenger car sales grew by 2.4 percent to 173,282 units, it said.
The economy of the Czech Republic, an ex-communist EU nation of 10.5 million, is heavily dependent on the auto industry, which made up 22 percent of its industrial output in 2011.
The country is home to three large auto plants — Skoda Auto, South Korea’s Hyundai, and TPCA, a joint venture between France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen and Japan’s Toyota.
The lion’s share of their output is destined for export markets in western EU neighbours, notably EU powerhouse Germany.
Light utility vehicle sales fell by 3.4 percent in the first half against a year ago to 5,779 units, topped by Volkswagen, Ford and Renault.
Lorry sales dropped by 5.54 percent to 3,612 units, bus sales grew by 14.2 percent to 386 units and motorbike sales fell by 6.26 percent to 9,596 units, the association said.
Fuelled by exports from the three car makers and local car parts producers, the Czech economy grew by 1.7 percent in 2011, following 2.7-percent growth the year before.
The Czech central bank expects the economy to post zero growth for this year before a pick-up to 1.9-percent growth in 2013.