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24.06.2020 Madagascar

Madagascar unveils new domestic vehicle, eyes export market

By AFP
Madagascan firm Karenjy has built three popemobiles.  By RIJASOLO (AFP/File)
LISTEN JUN 24, 2020
Madagascan firm Karenjy has built three popemobiles. By RIJASOLO (AFP/File)

Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina on Wednesday unveiled prototypes of a new brand of locally-made cars and motorbikes which are expected to hit the roads in three years.

GasyCar is the second brand of automobiles manufactured in the Indian Ocean island nation after Karenjy, which was launched by the government in 1984.

"We will sell in the national market, but we are also thinking of exporting to Africa and around the world," Rajoelina said.

A GasyCar plant is to be built this year and the first models are expected to reach the market by 2023.

Prototypes of GasyCar motorbikes and SUV models were shown at the launch.

Madagascar's local car industry hit the global stage in 1989 when Karenjy produced two popemobiles for Pope John Paul II's visit.

Another popemobile was built for Pope Francis in 2019.

But Karenjy can only make a dozen cars a year. The starting price is around 6,500 euros ($7,300).

The hand-made vehicles are rustic and lack conveniences such as electric windows or airbags, making it hard for them to compete with imported brands despite their affordability.

Rajoelina vowed to boost Madagascar's limited industrial capacity after his election in 2018.

The island is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 90 percent of the population surviving on less than two dollars per day.

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