A promise of things to come
China’s state-owned First Automobile Works (FAW) launched a series of lightweight vehicles at this year’s Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS).
Introduced into the South African market in 1994, FAW has a network of 20 sales and service dealerships and 10 stand-alone service dealerships throughout the country. Proof of the company’s growth can be found in the new truck manufacturing plant, representing an investment of approximately US$100 million (R984 million), currently being built at the Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape.
FAW claims that this is one of the most important investments made by a Chinese entity in South Africa to date. The plant, which is being financed by FAW China and the China-Africa development fund, is expected to be completed by the end of this year and produce 5 000 trucks annually. The first trucks are expected to roll off the assembly line during the second quarter of next year.
Another new development at FAW is the seven-seater V80 minibus, which is scheduled to arrive on our shores during 2014.
“Although the first FAW passenger car and light commercial vehicle to be introduced on the South African market – the Sirius S80 seven-seater people-carrier and panel van – only went on sale at the beginning of the year, we are already seeing a growing interest in the brand and a steady sales pattern for the Sirius models,” says Pedro Pereira, general manager of FAW cars and light commercials.
He adds: “When we launched the Sirius, first with a 1,3-litre engine and later with the option of a 1,5-litre power plant, we said that we would grow the FAW passenger car and light commercial vehicle range as more right-hand drive models became available.”
The V80 minibus, which is built on the rear-wheel drive Sirius chassis, is fitted with a 1,5-litre petrol engine and a five-speed manual gearbox. Suspension consists of Macpherson struts in front and leaf springs for the solid rear axle. Alloy wheels are standard.