Workers at Marathon Motors Engineering Plc’s new plant unload equipment. The plant will have the capacity to assemble 10,000 cars per year when it becomes fully operational.

Marathon Motors Engineering, the sole importer of Hyundai car models, is inaugurating a half-billion-Birr assembly plant for Hyundai located on the outskirts of the capital.

The opening of the plant will be held on February 21, 2019, attended by Won-Hee Lee, CEO of Hyundai Motor Company, a South Korean automotive manufacturer.

The plant, which has passenger and truck and bus assembly lines, has been under construction for a year and a half. This was after Marathon, which has been the sole importer of Hyundai vehicles, signed a technical assistance agreement with the South Korean giant in May 2017.

Trial runs of the assembly plant began in October 2018, and 150 Hyundai models such as Creta, H1 minibus, Tucson, Accent and Grand I10 were assembled. The company plans to assemble 12 different types of Hyundai models after the inauguration, including medium-size trucks and buses, between the price ranges of 900,000 Br for a Grand I10 and 2.3 million Br for  a Tucson.

The vehicles will have a 50,000Km or two-year warranty, whichever comes first.

“Depending on the model, the cost of the assembled vehicles decreases 15 to 18pc from the imported vehicles, and in the near future, we will start to assemble relatively cheaper cars,” said Melkamu Assefa, CEO of Marathon Motors and one of the shareholders along with Haile G. Selassie, Getaneh Reta and Aseffa G. Selassie.

Within two shifts, the factory assembles 36 cars a day and when it becomes fully operational, it will assemble 10,000 cars in a year and create job opportunities for 1,500 peoples.

“For the next year, we have a plan to assemble electric vehicles,” said Melkamu.

The plant lies on a 30,000Sqm plot, leased in February 2017, in Nefas Silk District along the Tulu Dimtu Road. Two-thirds of the premises of the plant are used for test driving, while it also has different facilities including spaces for vehicle sales and spare parts, showrooms, a technical training centre and a service garage.

The construction and consultancy works of the plant were carried out by the companies of two shareholders. Assefa G. Selassie General Contractor constructed the plant with the consultancy service of GERETTA Consulting Architects & Engineering, a company that had overseen the construction of the Oromia Cultural Centre and Century Mall. 2,000 job opportunities were created during the construction period.

“There were challenges during the construction of the plant, including intense rain and devaluation of the Birr against a basket of major currencies,” Melkamu added.

Founded almost a decade ago, as importers and distributors of Hyundai passenger, commercial vehicles and parts in Ethiopia, Marathon imports 500-600 cars annually and currently has 340 employees. Its overall sales since establishment have reached 2.6 billion Br.

Marathon Motors will not be the sole assembler of South Korean made vehicles in Ethiopia. Belayab Motors partnered with KIA Motors and invested 150 million Br in assembling 3,000 models of the car annually.

There are a total of 19 companies that are registered at the Ministry of Trade & Industry to assemble motor vehicles, of which nine are owned by non-nationals.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 16,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 981]

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