The local motor industry is reeling under serious challenges which have forced most assembling firms to scale down operations.
The influx of grey imports is proving to be a major challenge for the industry though spare parts for these motor vehicles have become a burden to the local economy.
Paying a visit to the once vibrant car assembly plant in Harare, the Willovale Mazda Motor Industry (WMMA) revealed a sorry state of affairs as no production is being done owing to foreign currency constraints.
Three months after the reopening of the plant under a joint venture agreement with the Chinese, the uptake of locally assembled vehicles remains a challenge.
The influx of grey imports has seen the flooding of spare parts traders at Gazaland in Highfield and along Kaguvi Street in Harare’s CBD, a development which should worry policy makers as more foreign currency is being lost through the importation of spare parts.
Affordability of locally assembled cars has been one of the challenges.
One unit is fetching between US$17000 and US$40000 which is beyond the reach of many.
The country relies on two major car assembling plants with the quality of cars having been questioned by stakeholders, putting the nation at a catch 22 situation considering the hazards being brought by the importation of second hand cars on both the environment and foreign currency drain.
Observers said a clear motor industry policy is the missing link in growing the car manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe.
A 2016 study on the motor industry by the Transport and Infrastructure Parliamentary Portfolio Committee shows that procurement by government alone of local buses and coaches can raise assemblers’ productivity by 10 percent, according to committee chairman, Cde Dexter Nduna.
For sensors and diagnostics technical advisor, Farai Chitongo, a national motor industry development policy backed by a implementation strategy is key in advancing motor industry viability.
Experts believe that local car assemblers must improve quality and designs so that their products are competitive when pitted against other brands.