Local assembly of X55 planned for next year

The upgrading of BAIC’s (Beijing Automotive Group Co Ltd) local assembly plant in Coega in the Eastern Cape is well underway with production of the new Beijing X55 earmarked to start in the second quarter of 2023.

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The manufacturing project is done in conjunction with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) as a shareholder. The IDC’s long-term vision is the establishment of a manufacturing hub in Coega’s Special Economic Zone, established near Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.

The Chinse truck manufacturer, FAW also has a plant in Coega for nearly three decades now where its 8 000th truck rolled off the assembly line in September this year.

Up to now, the plant assembled the D20 and X25, which have come to the end of their life cycle. The new X55 was introduced to the South African media last week. Up to the kick-off of the local assembly of the X55, the new vehicle will be imported to South Africa. Currently, the B40 Plus with its robust Jeep-kind of styling is imported.

BAIC is the sixth largest Chinese automotive manufacturer and sold 1.7 million vehicles in 2021. An important step over the last ten years was the establishment of a partnership with Daimler and more recently, in 2019, the acquisition of a 9.98% stake in Mercedes-Benz, which is part of Daimler AG. Daimler, in turn, has a 12% shareholding in BAIC, which is owned by the Chinese government.

The partnership was an important step for Mercedes-Benz to gain an industrial footprint in the lucrative Chinese market, while BAIC benefited from the technology and other joint ventures.

The new X55 is a medium-sized SUV that will do battle in the fiercely contested segment dominated by Chinse manufacturers like Chery and Haval as well as the Korean manufacturers, Kia and Hyundai, and a host of other competitors like Toyota, Mazda, Volkswagen, Honda and Suzuki.

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