Eight months into the Rwandan market, Volkswagen is recording a lot of success having already assembled 55 cars with another 35 to be complete within the month of March. It is expected that by the end of the month, the firm would have a total of 90 vehicles to meet the demand of the local market.
According to the company, product demand in the local market is way above the equilibrium mark with its Sports Utility Vehicle models, the Terramont and Amarok being the most requested. Of the 35 cars to be completed and ready for the market at the end of March, the majority will be the Terramont, which retails at $48,156, about Rwf 41m. While Amarok, the Volkswagen pick-up truck will retail at $44,559(Rwf 38m).
Company officials say the high demand for VW vehicles is due to competitive pricing. “Our vehicles such as SUVs are cheaper than similar vehicles sold by our competitors whom I don’t want to mention,” Jean Luc Mugabo, a staff of the company’s sales and marketing department told KT Press. Volkswagen also offers special discount sales for government officials. Last August it announced that civil servants can buy Volkswagen cars on duty-free prices with a five percent reduction.
Michaella Rugwizangoga, CEO, VW Rwanda said for the past eight months, the company has been setting up the assembly plant and also building the capacity of local engineers to handle the work. Assembling a vehicle takes an average of two to three days but the major challenge has been the pace and cost of shipping in vehicle parts from South Africa, Argentina, and the United States. The entire process is said to inhibit production pace and affect pricing.
Last Friday, March 1, 2019, the company also launched “Move,” what it terms a modern mobility solution, by deploying 25 vehicles to different parking areas around Kigali. According to Rugwizangoga, since Move’s test launch in October 2018, the service has recorded massive success with over 12,500 registered users with over 9800 requested rides. “Move Ride has averaged 120 rides per day,” she said at the launch.
Volkswagens’s “Move Ride” and “Move Share” is partly akin to popular ride-hailing and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft but it also offers unique services like “Move Drive,” which will give Rwandans the freedom and access of owning a car when it’s needed. “A fleet of Volkswagen vehicles will be accessible at designated stations around the city of Kigali. All you need to do is book a vehicle, drive and return it upon completion of your trip,” the company states.
The service offers users convenience, comfort and safety thus giving them the ability to order, track and monitor requested journeys and pricing. “The 24/7 service which complements growing transport sector in Kigali, will help to improve road safety whilst giving our customers a personalized service offered by our app,” Rugwizangoga said.
VW Rwanda is also currently in talks with local financial institutions to ensure better financial terms in car mortgages for potential car owners to boost vehicle ownership in Rwanda. The firm has a target of assembling a thousand cars annually for sales, and for operations in its modern mobility solution.