Low purchases ‘frustrating’ domestic automakers


By Ernest Bako WUBONTO

The Chairperson and Managing Director for Volkswagen (VW) Group South Africa, Martina Biene, lamented over the sluggish uptake of locally manufactured vehicles.

In 2023, a total of 6,000 brand new cars were sold, out of Which 4,700 are locally manufactured or assembled. Madam Biene, whose outfit operates the VW Assembly plant in Accra, explains that this situation is detrimental to the industry’s investment prospects.

According to her, the local automobile manufacturers including Volkswagen Group has already invested about US$54million in establishing Semi Knocked Down (SKD) production plants in the country, with an installed capacity to produce over 120,000 vehicles per annum. However, low demand for brand new cars could affect future investments if the government fails to efficiently implement some policy decisions.

On how to boost the adoption of domestically manufactured or assembled vehicles, she expressed hope that the government would restrict the importation of salvaged cars, a move endorsed by the industry.

She added that the Ghana Automotive Development Policy (GADP) is an outstanding document, but without enforcement of two key elements of the policy – the ban on second-hand cars and mortgage facilitation for credit purchases, the industry’s potential would be undermined.

“The promising progress of the automotive industry in Ghana is the envy of other African countries, especially in West Africa. However, Ghana is not fully harnessing the opportunities presented by GADP to grow into a thriving new car market,” said Biene.

“Only 6,000 new cars were sold in Ghana in 2023, which in my view, is not a true reflection of the potential of this country. I therefore hope that the Government of Ghana will soon do the right thing to implement the two outstanding elements to unlock the local market,” she added.

Madam Biene, who also serves as the President of AAAM, believes that the 2023 volume could be quadrupled in the short-term if the two outstanding elements of the GADP are implemented.

Regarding the significance of the local market to the VW Group, she stated that Ghana plays a crucial role in its African ambition to become the leading provider of sustainable mobility on the continent. This commitment is evident in Volkswagen’s position as the first carmaker to invest in the country following the introduction of the GADP.

She made these remarks at the media launch of the newly assembled Virtus Sedan car here in Accra.

The all new Virtus

The Virtus is the latest Volkswagen model to be assembled at the Tema facility, joining existing models such as the Teramont, Tiguan Allspace and T-cross.

“The new Virtus, which we are launching today, was assembled by the wonderful team we have. The car you see here was proudly assembled here in Ghana by Ghanaians for the people of Ghana,” Martina said.

The Managing Director of Volkswagen Ghana, Jeffrey Oppong Peprah, highlighted that the Virtus is a subcompact Sedan carefully selected for the domestic market due to its fuel efficiency and other safety and comfort features.

It comes with a 1.6-litre MPI engine, delivering 81kW of power and 152Nm of torque at 3850 to 4100 rpm, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The Virtus offers two trim options – the Topline and the Highline. Its exterior design emphasises attention to detail, while the interior boasts the latest technology, comfort and a multi-function steering wheel with a dashboard display.

Equipped with a touchscreen infotainment system with eight speakers, wireless app connectivity, and a wireless charging system along with a rear-view camera system, the Virtus is an ideal choice for the younger population.

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