Greece’s national motor company Namco could be Greece’s answer out of the economic crisis, according to its CEO Petros Kontogouris.
“This is the real backbone of the Greek economy,” Mr Kontogouris said.
“Everything else, such as tourism, is all well and good, but it does not bring the same results to the economy.”
However, there’s a catch: this turn around may only be possible with the help of German investments.
Despite the rocky relationship in recent years between the two European countries due to economic instability in the eurozone, Namco are looking to mend the ties.
Started by the Kontogouris brothers in the 1970s, the company’s ties with Germany date back to 1973 when companies such as Intelco and Fahr would supply their spare parts. The Greek and German union proved successful and popular through a simple formula – using highly durable materials, coupled with the simplification of the usually high-tech German designs. This led to the creation of almost indestructible SUVs, truck and military vehicles, making them popular in the African, Asian and South American markets.
“The engines were supplied by Citroën, Ford, Volkswagen and Deutz, and we took care of the body,” Mr Kontogouris explained.
Currently standing as Greece’s only car factory, their plant based in Thessaloniki has the capacity to produce between 6,000 to 8,000 cars per year – a significant figure for the Greek car manufacturer.
Now looking to return to its glory days with the announcement of its new generation Pony model, the company is unfortunately facing some challenges from the Greek government.
Namco is one of many Greek companies being delayed by the red tape of state licensing authorities. Although ready to commence work almost immediately, without the correct authorisation the manufacturing company has had to put the brakes on its plans for the upgrade of its popular car model – an example of the unwanted bureaucracy created through the crisis.
Unfortunately, lack of opportunity has seen many highly skilled automotive engineers in Greece going without work and moving abroad to countries with stronger manufacturing industries such as Germany. However, Mr Kontogouris is looking to create in-country opportunities to stop these valuable workers from venturing away from their homeland.
“Now it is time that we give these people work again in Greece,” he said.
If all goes to plan, Germany’s investments, along with the support of Greeks abroad, will see the manufacture of the new generation Pony create a much-needed 2,800 jobs in the northern Greek region.
With Mr Kontogouris seeing the banks’ lending policies as the cause of Greece’s economic downfall, the CEO would rather look to other sources of funding.
With a tried and tested model, he claims that the company’s 17 million euros in share capital has the capacity to increase up to 30 to 40 million euros through the issuing of what he refers to as ‘people’s shares’.
“We do not believe in the banks and their lending policies, which caused worldwide economic chaos,” said Mr Kontogouris.
“We are relying on broad-scale support.”
Aside from its plan to commence manufacturing cars in Greece again and the upgrade of the Pony model, Namco continues to foster its presence in the African and Asian markets. The company is currently building a car with a Toyota Yaris engine in Vietnam.