Chinese set to unveil plans for PE vehicle plant

A chinese company is planning to build an R11-billion vehicle manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth.

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) said in an invitation yesterday the Beijing Automobile International Corporation Limited (BAIC) factory would be based in the city.

News of the project first surfaced late last year.

In the invitation to its annual financial results announcement, the IDC said it would, with BAIC, give details of the new plant.

More details would be provided on August 30 at the Coega Development Corporation.

The BAIC project, one of the biggest investments in the city’s history, would create about 2 500 permanent jobs and hundreds more during its construction.

State-owned BAIC is China’s fifth-largest vehicle manufacturer and its subsidiaries include passenger-car maker BAIC Motor, military-vehicle and SUV maker BAW, and truck, bus and agricultural equipment maker Foton Motor, which already has a presence in South Africa.

Building of the Port Elizabeth plant, to be the company’s biggest single investment in Africa, is set to start before the end of the year.

Partly funded by the IDC, the plant is expected to build bakkies SUVs and sedans for the African market and produce about 50 000 vehicles a year during its first phase alone.

This figure is expected to double in the second stage. Earlier this year, before a de – cision on the location of the plant had been made, Nelson Mandela Bay officials welcomed the proposal, saying any investment that would help cut the Bay’s massive unemployment and benefit the local economy would be welcome.

The investment forms part of 26 bilateral agreements – valued at about R94-billion – between South Africa and China signed by President Jacob Zuma and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in early December.

The IDC is partnering on these agreements in a bid to bring large-scale investments to South Africa to create jobs, increase exports and expedite economic growth while maintaining cooperation with China.

Five multinational vehicle manufacturers are already operating in the Bay region.

Recent investments in the motor industry in the metro include Volkswagen South Africa’s R4.5-billion expansion and FAW ’s R600-million manufacturing plant at the Coega IDZ, along with continued investment by Ford South Africa in its engine plant at Struandale.

A BAIC subsidiary, BAW South Africa, opened a minibus taxi assembly plant in Gauteng four years ago.

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