Mobius, the first Kenyan vehicle manufacturer has received a Sh500 million ($5 million) loan from the US government’s development finance institution Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) to set up a new factory.
In a statement early this week, Mobius Kenya said the Nairobi factory, to be unveiled mid this year, will be equipped with new technology that enables end-to-end production capabilities that include fabrication of the vehicle frame, anti-corrosion treatment, general assembly, painting and final inspection and quality testing.
It will also include a research and development arm. Mobius plans to churn out an additional 1,900 vehicles by 2019. It has to date manufactured and sold 50 units, all produced at Thika-based motor vehicle assembler Kenya Vehicle Manufacturer.
“We believe that the growth of manufacturing will be a vital part of Kenya’s industrialization story over the next decade and beyond, and Mobius will play a key role in realizing this vision,” said Mobius Motors, Chief Executive officer, Joel Jackson.
The Opic loan is part of a Sh1.1 billion ($11 million) financing the firm received from investors who include New York-based PanAfrican Investment Co. The firm received its first Mobius II pre-order in August 2016 after the first generation model sold out. The new vehicle is priced at Sh1.58 million.
“With our first generation model, we proved that a car can be designed, developed, and built here. As we prepare to launch our new Mobius II model, the stage in our evolution is to establish our own production capacity,” said Mr. Jackson.
The new vehicle has advanced features including power steering, sealed side windows, and lockable doors. The original model was stripped of extras such as power steering and internal fixtures and the new version is looking to woo a wider clientele base with the improved features.
The company is also eyeing a possible lucrative State supply tender to boost production and sales of its new generation model. According to Mobius Motors commercial director, Markus Schroder, the company is in talks with the government regarding a possible fleet purchase in line with the government’s policy of supporting Kenyan manufacturers.
“Mobius has developed an innovative solution to the shortage of affordable transportation in Africa, which is one of the biggest hurdles to economic growth,” said Ray Washburne, Opic president, and CEO.