The surprising countries our cars come from

Portugal and Romania the latest entrants in official new-car sales Country of Origin data.

With local car manufacturing a thing of the past, it comes as no surprise that our new car stocks come from all over the world. We have Japanese, Thai, Korean, German, British, US and Chinese manufacturers clamouring for our hard-earned.

But, not everything is as it seems when it comes to country of origin for vehicle manufacturers.

A quick scan of the latest official new-car sales data (known in the industry as VFACTS) reveals that 26 countries manufacture vehicles that end up in Australia, including places as diverse as Portugal, Romania, Turkey, Argentina and Slovakia.

The 10 biggest sources of motor vehicles in Australia today are (in order of highest to lowest volume): Japan, Thailand, Korea, Germany, China, USA, the UK, Hungary, Spain and Mexico.

Of interest though, are two new countries on the list, making their local debut as it were. In October alone, 263 cars built in Portugal found new homes in Australia. Further, the yearly total for Portuguese-built cars is 593. Last year, there were none.

Similarly, Romania makes its first appearance in VFACTS, with 210 Romanian-built cars lobbing in driveways across Australia for an annual total of 315, against zero in 2019.

So, what are these cars coming to us from Portugal and Romania? We did a little digging.

Think your all-new Volkswagen T-Roc is built in Germany? Think again, VW’s small SUV rolling off the production line in Palmela, near Lisbon in Portugal.

A wholly-owned Volkswagen facility, the Palmela plant started operations in 1995, producing a number of models, some of which have also made their way to Australia, including the VW Eos from 2006-15 and more recently, the Scirocco which was built in Portugal from 2008-17.

The Volkswagen plant is the largest foreign industrial investment in Portugal, and directly employs around 3000 workers on site with a further 6100 supplier jobs throughout Portugal.

It’s a similar tale in Romania where a factory located in Craiova churns out the all-new Ford Puma. New to our shores, Ford’s compact crossover has racked up 315 sales so far in 2020, all originating from Ford’s Romanian plant.

Ford bought the plant from the Romanian government in 2008. It had previously been owned by Oltcit, a joint venture between the government and French auto maker Citroen and then subsequently Korean manufacturer, Daewoo.

Since 2008, Ford has produced a number of vehicles and engines at the plant including versions of the Transit and EcoSport. In terms of engines, the Craiova plant has manufactured both the 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.5-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost families.

Ford’s Romanian plant has the capacity to manufacture around 300,000 vehicles annually and the value of its exports makes it the third-largest company in Romania.

So next time you see a VW T-Roc or Ford Puma on our roads, give a little wave and say either Olá or Salut.

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