Local publicly-listed firm RMA (Cambodia) Plc is planning to set up the Kingdom’s "first-ever" motor vehicle assembly plant, to capitalise on the rising consumer demand for brand-new personal vehicles seen in recent years.
The move has prompted some to say that this could be a game-changing development for the domestic automotive industry.
RMA CEO Ngorn Saing told The Post on September 15 that his company received approval from Ford Motor Co to manufacture Ranger pickups and Everest SUVs, saying that the US auto major recognises the increasing demand in Cambodia for new vehicles.
He said RMA has signed a land leasing agreement for a 4ha site in Pursat province’s easternmost district of Krakor, and separate contracts with a construction manager and general contractor.
“We expect the assembly plant to be ready next year, and now we are just waiting for government approval so that we can begin construction. It’ll take between three-to-four months to complete, and we’ll be able to start assembly early next year,” he presumed.
The planned facility will have a lofty production capacity of 10,000 units per year, or over 27 per day, he said, admitting that this will exceed demand, and noting that the assembly line would be tailored to better match market needs.
Pursat provincial governor Mao Thonin heralded the project, saying he expects it to generate new jobs in the province and kickstart a new industry for the Kingdom.
“We welcome the forenamed investment into our province, wherefore they will create more jobs, improve the livelihoods of the people here, and produce more skilled labour for the automotive industry,” he said.
RMA’s Saing pointed out that the domestic automotive industry is dominated by second-hand vehicles, which account for 70-80 per cent of all sales in the Kingdom, a trend which he said has rapidly reversed in the last few years as more Cambodians opt for new models.
He indicated that used vehicles are “very risky for our people”, due to the road safety hazards that they can pose.
The project, he added, comes as Cambodians become increasingly aware of safety issues and reject second-hand models in favour of brand-new units.
He said that while all raw materials to be fed into the assembly line will be shipped in from a Ford factory in Thailand, the company will be open to local firms that are keen on supplying any of the necessary components.
“Our assembly plant will entice more component factories to set up in Cambodia to supply us, with tyres for instance,” he said with a dose of optimism.
According to Saing, Ford has topped the domestic new-vehicle market for a number of years consecutively, with a 45 per cent market share.
“We hope that the government will support us, as this is the first-ever motor vehicle assembly plant in Cambodia. This is the start of the Cambodian automotive industry and it will spur other companies into the market.
“The prices of our vehicles will also be quite a bit more economical, inspiring more people to embrace new models that are safe,” he said.
“Our ultimate goal in setting up an assembly plant here is to provide affordable prices.”