WINDHOEK - The N$190 million Peugeot assembly plant in Walvis Bay is still in the pre-series production phase that entails training employees and validating the production process. This pre-series production phase includes the first batch of 15 vehicles assembled for the inauguration of the plant, which have all passed Peugeot’s stringent quality targets.
The pre-series training involves about 25 employees who joined the company and during 2019, this number is expected to increase based on commercial demand, when the plant reaches full capacity in 2020.
The production plant, which aims for an annual targeted volume of 5 000 units by 2020, is owned by the Namibian government, through the Development Corporation (51 percent equity) and the French vehicle manufacturer, Groupe PSA, (49 percent). Peugeot invested N$50 million while the remaining N$140 million includes the valuation of the land on which the plant is situated as well as the physical infrastructure provided by government.
“We are now in the next phase to complete training, speed up the production and obtain the quality targets of the plant. Production started again after summer break and is going according to the schedule,” confirmed Sharon Garson, a spokesperson from Peugeot Citroen South Africa.
Responding to questions form New Era, Garson added that the Namibian-assembled vehicles will be sold in African markets and mainly within the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) which includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
Said Garson; “A challenge is to implement the automotive quality culture as it is new for the country. Assembling a vehicle is easy, continuously assembling vehicles reaching quality target needs robust processes employees have to understand and apply. No deviation is accepted on quality. Fortunately, we found in Namibia employees with good technical background, highly committed with the wish to learn and to continuously improve their skills. This is very encouraging for the future and the development of the plant.”
However, Garson noted that at this stage, it is too early for the Namibian public to view or test the locally produced vehicles. “We are still in the phase of producing pre-series cars. Once the process of mass production is launched, we will definitely organise an event to present the products to the media and public,” she stated. Furthermore, Garson could not comment on the expected retail prices of the first vehicles to be produced at the plant, namely the Peugeot 3008 and Opel Grandland X.
“Due to competitive reasons we have to keep this information confidential. However, rest assured that we have at heart to offer our customers competitive products with no compromise on quality,” Garson explained.
She however revealed that the vehicles assembled specifically for the Namibia market will include a metallic shield under the powertrain, something vehicles in the same class, such as the RAV4 or Tiguan, do not install.
Meanwhile, Groupe PSA’s executive vice president for the Middle East and the Africa region, Jean-Christophe Quemard, said in an earlier interview that Peugeot’s investment is part of a long-term strategy to increase sales in Africa and the Middle East. “This is consistent with our target to sell one million vehicles in 2025. This new capacity will serve regional markets with products in line with our Opel and Peugeot customer expectation,” he added.