Car assembly company, Quest Motor Corporation, says uptake of its vehicles remains low and it needs government support to avoid shutting down.
Speaking after a tour of its plant in Mutare, Quest’s chief executive officer Gulam Adam said capacity utilisation had remained at a modest 10% since production of vehicles resumed last year.
Adam said inquiries from various government departments were not translating into sales.
“We need government support, otherwise we will grind to a halt. The company can only thrive if the government buys vehicles from us,” Adam said.
When production is at its peak, the company can employ up to 1 500, but currently has 150 members of staff.
“I wrote a letter five months ago to the State Procurement Board, and was given assurance that government departments will buy our vehicles,” he said.
“We have, however, not received co-operation from government ministries and now we have cars that are in the plant, but have no takers.”
Quest has so far invested $4 million in assembling two car models, JMC and Quest Chery.
The plant has the capacity to produce
35 000 cars daily at full throttle.
Since resuming production, the company has produced 120 JMC pick-up trucks, 60 Cherry Tiggos, 36 double cabs and 24 Fulton pickup trucks.
On average the vehicles cost $20 500.
He said the company will soon receive 90 additional kits from China for single and double cabs.
Quest represents most of the industries in the country that are operating below capacity due to power shortages, inadequate working capital and obsolete equipment.
Adam said since the termination of contracts with leading brands such as Mistubishi, Nissan and Peugeot, Quest had sought deals with Chinese companies.
“We decided to look east and China now has most of the car manufacturing plants in the world,” he said.
“The Chinese government has been active in assisting the motor manufacturing industry.”
Adam said they had managed to secure a franchise with Chinese companies to receive car kits.
Established in October 1958, the company has changed names from Austin Motor Corporation, Leyland Motor Corporation, Leyland Zimbabwe and now Quest Motor Corporation.
Quest is a contract assembly plant for small cars, medium and heavy trucks and tractors.