The second large city in Romania, Constanta, has a picturesque identity characteristic of every seaport. However, when I came there this summer, I almost felt as if I were in my native “terrestrial” Belarus. This powerful impression was caused by the abundance of the same kind of buses as in Belarus, the ones produced by Minsk Automobile Plant (MAP). They are the same colour, and even the line numbers are the same. For instance bus line 100 goes in the centre of the city both in Minsk and in Constanta. And when on my way back home, I saw a column of another 10 new Minsk buses going to Romania.
It is pleasant, of course, to see such “fellow-countrymen” far away form home. But besides pleasing feelings, this fact arouses also thoughts on the place of the Belarusian industry in the European, so to say, economic landscape. Admittedly, automobile manufacture is the sign of a high development level; not every country can boast of having developed this industry. The automobile plant in Minsk is almost 60 years old. Its lorries enjoy a high reputation in dozens of countries. As for the buses, their production began only in 1992. "Their prototype was the German "Neoplan", explains to me director of the public relations centre of MAP, Valentin Lopan. “But now both in terms of its design and in terms of its build, except for its engine, this is a totally Belarusian automobile”. At first we planned to produce annually 500 buses. But demand for them proved to be so high that as soon as in 2005 we increased the output almost twice, and in 2006 we are going to produce about 1500 buses — both buses for in-town carriage of passengers and long-distance coaches".
In order to sell a bus to this or that town, it is almost always necessary to win a tender where a lot of leading European companies take part. As you see, Minsk Automobile Plant has managed to do it not once, because its automobiles not only have a modern design, but are also durable and conform to the most demanding European environmental standards while being competitive costwise. In 2004 Minsk tourist coach received the highest awards of the international automobile salon in Moscow. A year after, the new family city bus won the same high recognition.
Belarusian buses have been also appreciated according to their merit in Romania — they carry passengers in Bucharest, Constanta, Brashov, and Yasi. Since 2002 this country purchased from MAP about 270 automobiles. Not long ago the automobile plant in Minsk was visited by another delegation from Romania. They discussed the cooperation prospects for 2006 and negotiated purchasing of at least 150 Belarusian buses. For the first time there will be multiple-unit large-capacity automobiles among them, as well as the new family automobiles the manufacture of which is now being mastered.
By the way, Romania is not the only European country where passengers are carried by Minsk buses. About 60 cars were purchased by Serbia last year, 2 buses were sold to Germany and 1 — to Hungary. I remind that these countries also have a well-developed automobile manufacture. That is why selling Belarusian buses to these countries is a speaking fact. "We pin our hopes on the production of the new family buses that will help us to entrench ourselves in the West-European market as well", commented Director General of Minsk Automobile Plant, Valentin Gourinovich.