ZIMBABWEAN businessman Car assembly plant for Kwekwe Dr Devine Mafa, who is based in the United States of America, has partnered with an unnamed international car manufacturer to set up a vehicle assembly plant in Kwekwe.

In an interview from the US yesterday, Dr Mafa said the proposed plant would focus on producing affordable, fuel efficient cars suitable for the local terrain. He said the plant’s goal was to build the first truly Zimbabwean motor vehicle brand.

“Our goal is to build the first truly Zimbabwean brand motor vehicle. A new icon for Zimbabwe. For now, we bring 75 percent pre-assembled vehicles, and finish the simple things in Zimbabwe,” said Dr Mafa who is also the founder of Divine Rags clothing store chain in the United States.

He said the first delivery of the completely knocked down kits is scheduled between April and May this year. Dr Mafa said their vehicle brand would be fuel efficient and reasonably priced and would also be running on both gasoline (petrol) and electricity commonly known as hybrid cars. By using both a conventional engine and electric motor, the best hybrids achieve significantly better fuel efficiency than non-hybrid counterparts. It is hoped that once established, the plant will create over 11 000 jobs.

Apart from being sold locally, the cars will also be exported into the region and beyond. Dr Mafa said the proposed vehicle assembly plant was coming in to fill the gap in the local motor industry which has led people to import old but highly priced motor vehicles from Japan and Singapore, draining the country of scarce foreign currency.

“Some of the cars imported from Japan and Singapore are as old as 20 years and thus their lifespan on our Zimbabwean roads and terrain is very short,” he said.

“They often break down, and parts have to be imported again, draining the economy of foreign currency even more.”

Dr Mafa said his vision was to reduce the carbon footprint caused by inefficient cars, leading to climate change and other undesirable effects. He also envisages that as his organisation would be selling new cars, their lifespan would be much longer and thus reducing the number of junk yards that are littering Zimbabwe’s environment.

“Zimbabwe is a beautiful country, but both its land and air are being polluted by dumped old vehicles which have reached their end, and old cars still on the road which are emitting toxic fumes into our otherwise beautiful atmosphere,” said Dr Mafa.

Most European governments have given their car manufacturers up to at most year 2040, beyond which all cars must be electric-powered so as to reduce carbon emissions. France will halt new petrol and diesel car sales by 2040, but other countries are looking to ban them years earlier.

Scotland is aiming for 2032, India wants to only sell electric models by 2030 and Norway, the world leader in the take-up of battery-powered cars, has set a 2025 deadline. It is with this in mind that Dr Mafa’s project will both be cost-saving to Zimbabweans in the meantime, but is also visionary in that it helps Zimbabwe to step in the right direction, regarding environmentally-friendly and responsible motoring.

– chronicle