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Locally made car makes a comeback in Madagascar

posted 28 Feb 2012, 05:14 by Mpelembe   [ updated 28 Feb 2012, 05:15 ]

Madagascar seeks to revive its once active car manufacturing industry.

After a 17 year shutdown, the locally manufactured car known as Karenjy is back on the streets of Madagascar.
Manufactured in the southern central region of Fianarantsoa, the Karenjy has always been the pride of the Malagasy people. The company produced vehicles from 1985 and 1995, when the company was dissolved.

In early 2009, the plant was reopened, thanks to new funding from French organisations.

Michel Venderier is a former mechanic and has been training local factory workers.

"I am a former mechanic and I bring my expertise and experience, so that the Malagasy people can take advantage of it," he said.

The reopening of the car factory also means job creation for the many unemployed mechanics, who had their jobs when the factory closed shop.

"We are very happy. We are former employees. The factory closed for a dozen years and today we are back here, working, this is a miracle for us. We are really happy about it," said Elia Antsaniaina, who is amongst four of the employees that returned to work for the factor.

"I am really happy, because in all of Madagascar, only Fianarantsoa has a factory that makes cars and it is the pride of our country, and I am pleased to work here," added another factory worker Rolly Hajatiana.

Currently, it takes around two weeks for the 15 employees at the plant to assemble a car. The vehicles are designed for Madagascar; the chassis is welded and fitted with Renault mechanical parts, and a locally produced fiberglass/composite body.

"Our objective is to put out two cars per month, but we have yet to reach that goal. Having said that, we are working hard to achieve that goal, and we already have many orders," said factory workers, Elysee Ravo.

Since its reopening, the company has released 10 cars, eight of them sold around the country at the cost of between 4,800 (6,445 US dollars) and 6,800 (9,130 US dollars) each, although most sales were made on behalf of foreign buyers.

The car has also earned some local fans who rave about its virtues.

"I have had this car for a year now. It's true that I had minor issues with it, but the service provided after I bought it is really good, and I have no problems driving a Karenjy at all times. Anytime I have a problem, I call them up, they are based here and they can help me out any time. I have even bought a second car for the restaurant staff. I am a restaurant owner here in Fianarantsoa, and I only ride in a Karenjy," said restaurant owner, Didier Bucrel.

"She is easy to drive, and she doesn't need a lot of petrol. I do my errands in it and the kids love her, but I also drive her to promote our own Malagasy products," added Marie Alain Beatrice, Fianarantsoa resident.

The plant has rolled two new car models, called the Diesel Mazana 4x4, available in sedan and convertible, and the petrol Foaka 2x4 pickup.