The African automotive market might be but a blip on everyone’s radar, but not on Renault’s. The French automaker anticipates the pending rise of the region and has built the continent’s largest car plant in a move to gain a first-mover advantage.
The plant is located in Tangiers, Morocco, and currently has an annual manufacturing capacity of 170,000 cars, with most of the vehicles produced exported to Western Europe as low-cost Dacias. Renault plans to increase that capacity to 400,000 by 2015.
As a response to the increasing wealth in countries like Angola, Nigeria and Kenya, as well as those in North Africa, an increasing amount of the vehicles manufactured are expected to stay on the continent in the coming years.
“Africa is stabilizing,” said Jean-Christophe Kugler, Renault’s senior vice president for the African region, in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s better to take positions right now to have new growth drivers when other markets start to mature.”
With Europe in the teeters, Renault is hoping that even more diversification would help balance-out the increasingly slim profit margins in its home market. The company was late to China and is feeling the consequences; it doesn’t want to make the same mistake with Africa.
Kenya’s Mobius Motors Begins Production of the Mobius Two SUV
Long neglected by automakers, Africa now has a vehicle specifically-developed for its rugged roads. Kenya’s Mobius Motors has begun production of the Mobius Two, a bare-bone, rugged SUV that places simplicity and affordability above all else.
The Mobius Two is built from aluminum and carbon fiber components and rides on a tubular steel platform that can be welded back together when broken. Its basic construction keeps weight down and makes repairs fairly straightforward.
The body can be configured to seat six to eight adults, while folding down the rear seats turns it into a pickup with a payload of 1,100 pounds.
Under its hood is a Toyota-sourced four-cylinder gasoline engine that was selected because local mechanics are familiar with it. A five-speed manual transmission sends power to all four wheels.
Designed strictly for getting from point A to point B, the Mobius Two has a low price tag of around $6,000, making it one of the cheapest off-roaders int he world. The Kenyan company expects to sell some 500 units by the end of 2013.
Nissan Looking at African with its Budget Datsun Brand
The age-old Datsun name was revived recently by Nissan to provide budget-oriented cars for emerging markets. A top executive has revealed that Africa would be an area of focus, joining regions like Indonesia, India and Russia in the brand’s expansion plans.
“The Korean manufacturers, the Indians and Chinese are more aggressive in emerging markets,” Nissan executive Toshiyuki Shiga told Reuters. “In order to penetrate frontier, growing markets like the African market, we need a product.”
Nissan’s strongest presence on the continent is in South Africa, a country where 40 percent of the population lives on less than $3 per day. The 110,000 rand ($13,400) Micra subcompact hatchback is the company’s cheapest offering in the country, but as affordable as it is, it’s undercut by Geely’s 95,000 rand ($11,325) entry-level LC hatchback, which offers the same level of practicality. A future Datsun model could be priced lower than both cars, however.
Nissan currently produces around 90,000 cars on the African continent, with around 50,000 units in South Africa. It plans to double production in that country by 2016.
African Company Mobius Makes World’s Cheapest SUV [Video]
Conjure up an image of the world’s cheapest SUV and Mobius Motors will likely be the last company on your mind, but this is a company on a mission. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, it has spent most of its existence trying to put Africa on wheels.
The Mobius Two is the company’s second attempt at an ultra-affordable SUV. To keep weight down, its body is built from aluminum and carbon fiber. To make repairs easy, its simple construction consists of a tubular steel platform that can be welded back together when broken. The engine, likely to be a Toyota-sourced four-cylinder gasoline engine, is said to be familiar to local mechanics and light on gas.
With an expected price-tag of $6,000, this SUV is bare bone and strictly about getting from point A to point B. You’d be barking up the wrong tree if you like your ride to be stylish and to have air conditioning or glass side windows. Instead, what you get is a very roomy vehicle that can seat up to six to eight adults, depending on the configuration, and haul up to 1,100 pounds.
Affordable, durable and versatile — this SUV looks to be just right for the rural parts of Africa and even the cities.