Construction of the new state-of-the-art FAW SA truck plant being built in the Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape is well on track with the first vehicles to be assembled in the commercial vehicle plant scheduled to roll off the assembly line in July 2014.
The first-phase of the 30 000 m2 plant – complete with training facilities – will allow the company to provide its southern African client base with commercial vehicles from a plant which has a build capacity of 5 000 units a year.
The Coega assembly plant will supply trucks to the South African market as well as to the rest of Africa, in both right-hand and left-hand-drive derivatives
A recent visit paid by FAW Trucks’ board of management reconfirmed the confidence expressed by the group in the growth potential of both the South African market and the southern African region in general.
FAW’s decision to build the plant in South Africa is significant as it is, to date, one of the most important investments made by a Chinese entity in South Africa. The total investment of R600-million has been financed by FAW China and the China-Africa Development Fund (CAD-Fund). In addition, the arrival of FAW in the Eastern Cape region has already created 280 jobs, with an additional 500 lined up.
FAW Trucks first made its appearance in South Africa just on twenty years ago when Richard Leiter, a local business entrepreneur acquired the licence to import, distribute and sell FAW vehicles here. Today he still holds a minor share in the local entity, serves on the local Board of Directors and continues to contribute his experience and passion in the advancement of the company.
Originally announced in 2012, the decision to construct the plant was not one taken lightly. “We could have gone to Kenya or Tanzania where FAW has been present in sales and service for over 30 years but in the end we chose South Africa because of the infrastructure. It then came down to a choice between East London and Coega with the latter being chosen because the infrastructure is perfect,” says Leiter.
As for FAW SA’s existing assembly facility in Isando, Leiter says it will be transformed into a parts and distribution centre as well as serve as the Isando Service Centre. In addition, a new head-office building is being constructed in Isando to accommodate 120 staff and is nearing completion. This new 2 500 m2 building will form the new base for the company’s activities on the continent. It also includes a training centre.
“To date, we have been successful within the construction, agriculture and freight industry sectors and we will continue driving these sales. The current economic climate pertaining to the construction industry in particular, is looking very positive and we are confident of further success in these areas,” says Leiter.
“Our focus in 2014 continues with increasing brand awareness in the freight carrier market, where specific models have been developed to cater specifically for logistics requirements and our marketing efforts are streamlined accordingly.
“Furthermore, we are growing our dealer network significantly, with the current dealer footprint sitting at 20 sales and service dealers and nine service-only dealers. This, combined with having partnered with the AA to offer added 24/7 peace of mind, will allow us to continue offering superior customer service and peace of mind,” says Leiter.
Leiter is optimistic with the growth plan that has been formulated for FAW in South Africa.
“FAW rose as a result of the political dispensation in China which allowed more free-market enterprise and encouraged overseas exports. As China grew then, so will Africa grow now and FAW is ideally placed to benefit from the demand for vehicles on the continent as we have established a solid footprint where it counts.”