MUTARE- Mutare based motor vehicle assembling plant, Quest Motors not
happy with its continued exclusion as the preferred local supplier of motor
vehicles to Government departments and public institutions, making the
Zimbabwean motor industry difficult to take off.
Though Government a few years back gave the greenlight to buy locally
produced vehicles through the removal of selected cars and buses imported
from the duty free certificate facility, not much has been done to boost local
Quest Motors General Manager, Carl Fernandez, during a tour of the assembly
plant said though the local industry was capable of manufacturing light
commercial vehicles and buses as per design, the industry continued to suffer
unfair competition from second hand imports.
“All is ready and set for mass manufacturing of motor vehicles to the clients
liking as per order. However, the capacity that Quest Motors alone has been
under utilised resulting in budget cuts as well as over pricing to meet the scales
of economy in the manufacturing of the products. What we do not realise is that
if we support local industry it is not only the motor industry that benefits but
these rewards will also benefit our suppliers of glass, springs, tyres and seats,”
Fernandez further pointed out that public institutions and public schools provide
a sizeable market to revive the motor industry and that the more the orders
come, the cheaper it would be for the institutions to purchase their vehicles.
“Public schools and Government departments in Manicaland alone have the
capacity to get our industry up and running. The revival does not take much but
a sizeable number of orders for us to produce. As it stands, importing a bus
would cost close to US$160 000 whereas a locally produced bus would cost
around US$140 000 making it a lot cheaper to get a local product available at
your doorstep,” he added.
He added that against the potential of producing 10 to 15 buses per month per
shift, the local assemblers were getting less than half the orders resulting in the
factory operation at less than five percent of its capacity.
“The country has a demand of close to 4 000 brand new car imports per year
against Quest Motors capacity to produce 10 000 cars a year, not to mention a
capacity of 10 to 15 buses per month per shift as well. We now have hundreds
of thousands second hand cars being imported into the country as well further
crippling our local industry, said Fernandez.
Added to the import woes is the short supply of electricity, a problem that has
not only affected the motor industry alone but several other industries.
Quest Motors is currently working with 50 people on the night working hours
between 10 pm and 5 am when the plant is assured of constant supply of power.
This is against the factory’s full potential of employing 4 500 people working
around the clock given all things being fair with regards to power supply and
motor vehicle demands.
“The power supply issue needs a big and long term solution. It is high time we
consider moving towards industrial scale solar power such that we are able to
have in place our day shifts since the short supply of power is seriously
affecting production,” said Fernandez.
He pleaded with Government to put in place stringent measures as per National
Development Strategy 1 which prioritises domestic products through the Buy
Quest Motors found its roots in the Austin Motor Company (Rhodesia) in 1949.
This was then taken over by Leyland (Rhodesia) Zimbabwe. The company
began its assembly operations in 1960 and was then owned by British Motor
Over the years the company has changed ownership and the Zimbabwean based
company was renamed Quest Motor Group in 1992.
The plant has been running since 1960 and has to date assembled thousands of
vehicles of 170 different models.
Quest currently holds the franchise for BMW, Chery, Foton Daimler, JMC,
Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Yutong and Zhongtong buses.