A locally assembled fuel powered car “Betret” with a capacity of 1500 cc made by a local firm is to make its debut in Ethiopia’s growing automotive industry.
The assembly plant, 100 percent owned by local investors’ lies on a 7,000 square meters plot located near Adama city, 99 kilometres south east of Addis Ababa. The plant has a capacity to assemble up to 1,200 cars annually.
Kassahun Admassu, Managing Director of Betret International PLC said that the cars are going to be assembled in Semi Knocked Down (SKD) form. SKD is a process in which parts of the car are almost entirely imported and are assembled at the plant.
The company originally had acquired a total of 12,000 sq mts area in Dukem, 37 kms south east of Addis Ababa, but relocated to Adama for a much bigger plot of 50,000 sq mts.
It said it decided to relocate its plot notwithstanding sizable additional cost for the long term advantage of increased productivity, better industrial facility and improved safety.
“So far we only get insufficient quantities of batteries and tires for our plant” Kassahun said adding that if and when there’s enough local supply, the company plans to venture into a Complete Knocked Down (CKD) form.CKD form is in which many parts for vehicles are produced locally, with the exception of parts like engines that will be imported.
The company brings materials needed for the assembly plant directly from the parent company BYD, which is located in China in order to have a synchronized car function and reliability.
BYD (Build Your Dreams) is a Chinese company which started working in 1995, by Wang Chuan- Fu with the manufacturing of lithium batteries for cars. It presently has production facilities in about nine countries globally, in addition to about a dozen it has in China.
The managing director says the plant has been operational for about a month, after about two years of construction, with it already having a stock of 96 cars to cope with expected customer surge.
Kassahun further said that the company expects to sell two models with a price tag of 419 and 439 thousand birr.
He also said Betret has signed an agreement with Adama University, Automotive Department to hire new graduates in order to give them work experience while at the same time fully utilizing their knowledge potential.
The company which has presently about 40 employees at its plant, stated that in in its mid-term plan it hopes to establish a Research and Development (R & D) institute as well as start to assemble electric cars.
Kassahun said his company started the construction of the plant with a 10 million birr starting capital and presently has a working capital of 40 million birr.
He also said that there are future plans to increase the number of the cars being assembled to 20 per day from the present four cars per day.
The company says its customer targets are Ethiopia’s growing middle class, the business community and private and state owned institutions.
“Betret” cars will have a two year warranty and a projected mileage of 6.5 litres per 100 kms.
Seble Tilahun, a graduate with a diploma from a vocational and technical school, works as belt, car ceilings and harness assembler at the plant. She said that she’s grateful for the on the job experience she’s receiving even though she started with zero work experience.
She further said she’s delighted that she’s been able to put into practice the theories she learned at school, at the plant she’s been working for the last three months.
Betret International PLC was established in 2002 by two shareholders Kassahun Admasu and Sisay Ayalewe, with the importation and distribution of various industrial goods, trucks and vehicles into the Ethiopian Market.