FAW to unleash Tiger | Infrastructure news

First Auto Works (FAW) South Africa is ramping up local production of its 4×2 Tiger truck in Port Elizabeth at its $80 million, 28 000 sqm2 Coega assembly plant, which opened in the Industrial Development Zone on 20 June 2014, as it prepares the truck for official introduction in May.

The new vehicle’s availability in South Africa – and later, sub-Saharan markets – coincides with its market introduction in China. While FAW describes the Tiger, which sports a 141hp, 3.8-litre Euro 3 Cummins engine and nine-speed ZF transmission as a medium commercial vehicle, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) lists it as a heavy commercial vehicle. It has a payload of just under 9-tons and a tare mass under three tons.

The PE plant is able to produce the vehicle in either right or left-hand drive applications, and will export some models up into Africa. FAW has 35 franchised dealerships in South Africa and is represented by FAW dealers and subsidiaries in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola, among other nations.

Representatives from the company say the Tiger, so named for its aggressive pricing, is aimed at smaller transport operators that are looking for a no-fuss, cost-effective solution. They were not willing to provide pricing or warranty information at the media preview held this week, until the official launch. In-house financing can be arranged.

Admittedly, the Tiger will face significant competition in the “medium” sector from Japanese manufacturers although they are generally pricier and more technologically complex. That said, the Tiger is equipped with full air brakes and ABS while many of its critical braking components bear the internationally recognised E-mark.

Taking a fit-for-Africa approach, the Tiger is currently only available with a manual gearbox, although AMT versions are on the cards. The company also intimated that more models would be added to the line-up at a later date.

The Chinese company’s Coega plant produces medium, heavy and extra-heavy commercial vehicles using leading international technologies and has an annual assembly capacity of 5 000 vehicles. Importantly, the plant has created and maintained around 300 jobs since mid-2014.

FAW’s truck body building facility was commissioned in January and since then has been building tipper bodies from semi knocked-down packs that are imported from the parent plant in China. These packs are shipped to the Durban port, where pricing is said to be keener and infrastructure more advanced.

While full-bodied tippers roll off the lines at the assembly plant and body shop, the production team is assessing the viability of producing drop-side bodies. “For the introductory phase we will commence with a 5-ton payload drop-side body, which will provide for the lowest cost per ton on the market,” says Yusheng Zhang, CEO of FAW Vehicle Manufacturers SA.

With the Tiger, the manufacturer is attempting to satisfy customer requests for a durable, rugged vehicle with smaller dimensions to handle different working environments that call for smaller sized vehicles. “We believe this segment of the market has great potential and opportunity for growth,” explains Zhang.

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