Marathon Motor Engineering Plc, the importer and distributor of Hyundai commercial vehicles, revealed its plans to introduce small affordable electric vehicles in Ethiopia.
The company announced this when it inaugurated the first electric charging station and rolled-out 20 electric powered vehicles at the company’s premises this week in the presence of high-level government officials.
Melakmu Assefa, founding CEO and Managing Director of Marathon Motor Engineering, told The Reporter that the electric cars being assembled by Marathon Motors locally, have a paramount importance to the country in saving hard currency and assisting the economy of the nation as well.
The company plans to assemble and manufacture electric public and mini buses following this week’s launch of Hyundai KONA SUV electric vehicles.
On the other hand, the company plans to locally substitute components that are currently imported from manufacturers in other countries.
“In the past three years, Marathon has transformed its activities from an automotive dealer to a global standard electric vehicle assembler,” Melkamu said.
The company has assembled more than 14 vehicle models and has already begun to launch different models of Hyundai electric cars in two rounds. In a few months, it plans to launch a third round of new model of cars. Besides that, in 2023 three to four models of electric vehicles, including small vehicles and public vehicles, will be launched.
According to Melkamu, Marathon will assemble multiple small Hyundai cars like Atoz with a price tag of not more than a million birr. Above all, in 2025, the company plans to shift 80 percent of its production into electric cars.
Marathon also commended that the government has to permit a tax-free inducement to import electric batteries and charging stations to incentivize the automotive manufacturing industry. This has great significance in saving a large amount of foreign exchange for the country.
Speaking at the event, Yinager Dessie (PhD), Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), stated that manufacturing of electric cars is an initiative that highly supports the Ethiopian economy, since the country spends most of its foreign currency on the purchasing fuel.
Ethiopia spends USD two to 2.5 billion annually for fuel and this is one of the main expenditures of the nation. Costs for medicine even come next to fuel. Therefore, investments that can minimize the forex disbursement are the most recommended option, Yinager said adding that, the NBE will try to support those investments that contribute to curbing costs for fuel and cut foreign currency expenses.
According to the Ministry of Industry, there are 40 vehicle assembling plants in Ethiopia as of December 2021.