Several countries in Africa are looking at resuscitating old motor vehicle assembly plants or developing new assembly plants. The motor vehicle assembly industry, as well as the manufacture of associated components that boost downstream industries, are seen as a catalyst for economic growth, bringing much needed job creation opportunities.
Ghana’s new Automotive Development Policy has encouraged VW, Toyota, and Nissan to look into opening assembly plants in the country. The Ghana Automotive Development Policy provides the necessary framework to establish assembly and manufacturing capacity in Ghana. However, VW’s plant in Ghana is currently focusing on internal combustion engine vehicles. Zimbabwe’s Motor Industry Development Policy (2017 – 2030) aims to resuscitate and promote local assembly of motor vehicles and also curb the influx of used vehicles. But the policy also focuses mostly on internal combustion engines and the manufacture of associated components.
Any retooling of old assembly plants, resuscitation of component manufacturers, as well as opening up of new factories on the continent must be forward-looking and aligned with global motor vehicle trends. Egypt’s El Nasr Automotive’ s agreement with Dongfeng to jump straight into producing fully electric vehicles as they resuscitate the old assembly plant could be a good template for other nations on the continent to follow. Egypt’s Minister of the Public Business Sector, Hisham Tawfik, says the production of the fully electric “Nasr E70” car should start in mid-2022. El Nasr has contracted Dongfeng to upgrade its current factory.
El Nasr Automotive, which opened its first plant in 1960 and stopped production in 2009, will be revamped and will produce 25,000 battery electric vehicles per year initially. These vehicles will be for the local market and this capacity can be ramped up depending on the demand. Dongfeng is also looking at the possibility of exporting vehicles to Europe in the next phase. One of the major stakeholders involved is Egypt’s taxi association. 14,000 vehicles will initially go to the taxi industry.
The first model that will be produced at the plant is the E70. Dongfeng’s E70 is a 5-seater sedan that has a 50.8 kWh battery and an NEDC range of 400 km. Its max (AC) charging power is 7 kW and 60 kW on the DC side. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h is stated as 9.9 seconds. Its top speed is given as 150 km/h (93 mph) and max power of 112 kW (150 hp). The E70 will be priced in the region of $20,370, which makes it quite competitive in this part of the world.
Egypt’s public charging infrastructure has also grown significantly over the past few years. Several firms are now very active in this market. Infinity and Zetecheg each now have well over 100 charging stations. The Government of Egypt has been actively promoting the adoption of electric vehicles. They have allowed the imports of used EVs as long as they are not more than 3 years old while maintaining the ban on used ICE vehicles. This has helped grow the population of EVs in Egypt, although estimates still put the total number of registered EVs at less than 2000.
The introduction of the locally assembled E70 will go a long way in accelerating the transition to electric vehicles in Egypt. Egypt has a target of at least 58% local components in Egyptian-assembled EVs in the near future and that will catalyze the growth of businesses in the associated downstream industries. These types of partnerships could be a good start for countries looking to grow their automotive industries. High capacity electric buses could be another area that countries could focus on to solve the public transport challenges present in many nations across the continent.
Featured image courtesy Dongfeng