Wilson Dakwa, Business Reporter
ONE of the world’s leading automotive manufacturing companies, FAW Group Corporation has stepped up preparations to set up an assembly plant in Bulawayo after the investors recently held a meeting to strategise on the resources needed for the project.
FAW Zimbabwe sales administrator Mr Patrick Masocha said the Chinese head-quartered firm’s executives reaffirmed their plans of setting up a plant in Zimbabwe during a meeting held in the country recently with their Zimbabwean counterparts.
“We recently had a meeting with a delegation of our investors and we can safely say we are at an advanced stage towards gathering resources and setting-up the plant in Bulawayo.
“One of our objectives is to address imbalances of trade and reduce the need for Zimbabweans to import vehicles because this drains the economy of its foreign currency and this forex doesn’t return back to Zimbabwe,” said Mr Masocha.
He, however, could not be drawn to divulge how much would be invested towards the project.
Last month the Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, hinted that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) should charge 150 percent in customs duty on second-hand vehicles, claiming Zimbabwe has become Japan’s largest warehouse of used cars.
Zimra is charging up to 96 percent duty for used car imports.
Used cars make a huge portion of the 1,2 million vehicles that are estimated to be in the country according to 2016 statistics from Zimbabwe National Road Administration.
According to official reports, the first half of 2016 saw $250 million worth of second-hand cars imported into the country, which was down from $365 million in the previous year.
As at August 2016, 42 000 second-hand vehicles were estimated to have been imported.
Mr Masocha said there was a lucrative market in the country’s automotive industry.
“The automotive sector of Zimbabwe has great potential to eliminate the need for people to import cars. With adequate funding among other factors, Zimbabwe’s automotive industry has the chest to supply the nation with locally assembled cars.
“Bulawayo is central in terms of geographical location and we intend to sell 60 percent of our units in Zimbabwe while 40 percent will be exported to Tanzania, Botswana and Mozambique,” he said.
The company has set a target of assembling 3 000 to 4 000 units of buses and trucks annually and intends to employ between 150 and 200 people.
“FAW largely wants to support the Zim Asset through assembling cars locally, creating employment and in turn increasing and improving the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
“Manufacturers of cars which are being imported into the country have not set up plants in Zimbabwe because they are gaining more than they would if they were to set up plants locally. By assembling buses and trucks locally, Zimbabweans will not import because they will be availed to them locally,” said Mr Masocha.
FAW Group Corporation is a Chinese state-owned automotive manufacturing company head-quartered in Changchun, Jilin, China.
Its principal products are automobiles; buses; light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks; and auto parts.
FAW became China’s first automobile manufacturer when it unveiled the nation’s first domestically produced passenger car, the Hong Qi, in 1953.
FAW is one of the “Big Four” Chinese automakers alongside Changan Automobile, Dongfeng Motor, and SAIC Motor.
In 2014, the company was ranked third in terms of output making 2,7 million whole vehicles and in 2015 the company made total sales of 18 million vehicles worldwide. @WilsonDakwa1