Expected to eventually produce 5 000 trucks a year, the first vehicles to be assembled at the 30 000 m2, R600-million FAW Trucks’ commercial vehicle plant, in Coega, were scheduled to roll off the assembly line in July, said the company on Friday.
Original planning saw the completion of the first trucks at the end of 2013.
The facility had now reached roof height, and plant and equipment were being installed.
The plant was financed by FAW China and the China-Africa Development Fund.
FAW said construction of the truck plant had already created 280 jobs, with an additional 500 opportunities to follow.
FAW trucks first made their appearance in South Africa just on twenty years ago when Richard Leiter, a local business entrepreneur, acquired the licence to import, distribute and sell FAW vehicles locally.
Today he still holds a minor share in the local arm of the Chinese entity, and serves as an executive director.
“We could have gone to Kenya, or Tanzania, where FAW has been present in sales and service for over 30 years but, in the end, we chose South Africa because of the infrastructure,” said Leiter.
“It then came down to a choice between East London and Coega. In the end Coega was chosen because the infrastructure is perfect.”
The Coega assembly plant will supply trucks to the South African market, as well as to the rest of Africa, in right-hand- and left-hand-drive derivatives.
FAW South Africa’s existing assembly facility in Isando, Gauteng, would be transformed into a parts and distribution centre, while also serving as the FAW Isando Service Centre.
A new head office was being constructed in Isando to accommodate 120 staff, and was nearing completion.
The new 2 500 m2 building was set to form the base for the company’s activities in Africa.
“To date, we have been very successful within the construction, agriculture and freight industry sectors where our vehicles are well-suited and well-proved,” said Leiter.
“We will continue driving these sales. The current economic climate, pertaining to the construction industry in particular, is looking very positive and we are confident of further success in these areas.
“Our focus in 2014 continues with increasing brand awareness in the freight carrier market, where models have been developed to cater specifically for logistics requirements. Our marketing efforts have been streamlined accordingly.”