Volkswagen Opens Rwanda's First Car Plant
Good news coming out of Africa.
On Wednesday, the first domestically built car rolled off the assembly line at Volkswagen’s new factory in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.
Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker is hoping to tap into demand for ride-sharing to expand in the region.
Despite low levels of car ownership in Rwanda, Volkswagen hopes to both sell vehicles and use them in an Uber-like car-sharing system that will allow people to book rides using their smartphones. Some will also be sold into neighbouring nations.
VW has started a community car-sharing service mainly aimed at companies in Kigali and plans to launch a ride-hailing offering later this year.
The VW Polo is the first model being made at the site and the German automaker plans to reach annual production of 5,000 cars in the first phase, by also building its Passat, Tiguan, Amarok and Teramont models.
“Deliveries come in and we put them into production as materials come in and as the demand comes in,” said Volkswagen’s South Africa boss Thomas Schaefer while speaking to Reuters on Wednesday at the launch event in Kigali.
“So, if there is a customer who wants a few hundred Passats we will put them in and build them,” he said.
The assembly plant uses components shipped from South Africa to Rwanda via Kenya, Schaefer said.
The $20 million investment, which will create up to 1,000 jobs, is as an example of much needed spending by overseas firms in the nation.