The car assembly plant introduced the Chery, Foton and JMC vehicles, with the cheapest costing just under $12,000.
“Our biggest challenge is support, in terms of vehicle sales both in the private sector, parastatals and government departments as well as individuals,” said the operations manager Tom Sarimana.
The plant assembled 60 Chery vehicles and was then forced to halt because of low market uptake. The Chery QQ3 hatch 0.8, equivalent to a Nissan Match, costs at $11,865. The Chery Tiggo SUV 2.0 AT sells for $31,600 and a Foton 1 tonne truck costs $29,200. JMC 1 tonne pick-ups cost $34,550.
The high cost, coupled with doubts over the quality of Chinese-made products, has shrunk Quest Motors’ vehicle market in Zimbabwe.
“Most people are sceptical of Chinese-made products, but these vehicles were carefully selected to suit our Zimbabwean market with cognisance of our past reputation in the car assembling industry,” said Sarimana.
Quest Motors used to assemble top-of-the-range models such as Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Hyundai, Nissan, and Volvo trucks and buses.
Ironically, Quest lamented that cheap car imports were affecting the performance of the country’s motor manufacturing industry.
Human resources manager David Duma bemoaned the fact that the local motor industry was seriously affected by lack of support, with Zimbabweans continuing to import vehicles from Japan, the United Kingdom, Singapore and South Africa.
This, he said, had an impact on the operations and viability of the country’s three motor assembly plants – Quest Motors, Willovale Mazda Motor Industries and AVM Africa.
These plants, along with downstream industries, could employ more than 20,000 workers and meet the national market demand.
“We are facing stiff competition from imported vehicles, especially cheap second-hand vehicles. These products are just being dumped into the Zimbabwean market. It’s not because we can’t produce products of such high quality but it’s probably because people believe the imported vehicles are cheaper,” said Duma.
Recently, the government said the country was losing millions in revenue by allowing the unregulated import of used vehicles.
According to statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the country imported 206,519 cars worth over $606m between January and November last year. This translated to about US$250m in import duty for the government.
Quest Motors is currently operating below five per cent with a staff – employing fewer than 100 people compared to its potential capacity of 1,500.
WMMI is also said to be in need of $4m to re-finance a line of credit from Itochu, Japan for the supply of kits for various Mazda models. However, like Quest Motors, WMMI’s charges are too high for most Zimbabweans – a Mazda 3 costs nearly $20,000.Post published in: Business