ECONOMY

Speedy cars with a made-in-Greece label

Greece’s luxury car market may be nonexistent but one businessman in northern Greece has started building replicas of some of the fastest cars on the road, and is selling them to a global market. Some two-and-a-half years ago, Ilias Gaganelis started building copies of Porsche models at his workshop in Katerini, Central Macedonia, giving car lovers a chance to own a beloved vehicle at a fraction of the regular cost. His Porsche replicas set buyers back just 30,000 euros, while offering guarantees on mechanical parts, the quality of the paint and against rust. The company, called Replicar Hellas (www.replicarhellas.com), does not place Porsche badges on the Spyder or Speedster models it manufactures. It has a growing customer base in Greece and abroad, competing against rivals in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. For 2010, Gaganelis said the company will sell 14 cars and expects this number to rise to 30 to 35 next year. «Later on, the target is to reach 100 to 120 vehicles per year. This depends on the conditions in the market abroad,» he told Kathimerini English Edition. German born and raised, Gaganelis started his business on his own in a 120-square-meter workshop. Now his facilities stretch over 1,200 square meters and he has a six-person work force, while he exports to Germany and Switzerland. «There has also been interest from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Australia. We are going after wholesale business rather than retail,» he said. The development of his company, however, has not been without speed traps. Difficulties in finding the professionals needed to support his operations, such as the right car body painter and upholsterer, along with the large amounts of bureaucracy for a concept new to the country have created numerous obstacles. He seems, however, determined to continue running his business in Greece despite having received offers to move to Switzerland. «The company name reads Replicar Hellas. The reference to Hellas is not coincidental,» he adds. [email protected]