Akagera Motors, which is part of the Akagera Business Group (ABG), has officially launched a range of busses and trucks by Chinese car maker Foton Motor.
ABG entered into an agreement with Foton last year and has since been selling the Foton Aumark C lightweight truck. Now it has also added the Foton Auman TX Prime Mover (a tractor-type truck) and the Foton Auman TX Tipper 18 CBM, both of which are heavy-duty vehicles. ABG also distributes Foton’s range of buses, which includes a Coaster type, a City bus and a long-distance inter-city type.
“We wanted a reliable partner for buses and trucks,” explained Shivaprakash Ramachandran, Sales and Marketing Manager at Akagera Motors. “And Foton has a good reputation, as it has partnered with Daimler; it is an international brand, and one of the best in China.”
“The advantage of Foton is that they have a wide range of trucks, but they are much cheaper compared to other brands yet they are as powerful as for example Mercedes Benz trucks,” he adds. “Over the last ten years, Foton has ventured into Africa, and they have proven their vehicles are strong for the African conditions,” he added.
According to Ramachandran, the relatively low cost of the Foton trucks makes them ideal for starting businesses or first-time truck buyers.
“The light truck, for example, costs around Rwf 25 million, and ABG offers a deal where you pay 30% upfront and the balance in installments over 24 months,” he explained. “So we are helping those customers who would normally find it difficult to buy a truck.”
As is the case with other brands of trucks it sells, Akagera Motors can also customize Foton’s light trucks – whether it is a flatbed truck, a fully enclosed cargo area, a cage or a tank for liquids.
Through the deal with ABG, Foton makes further inroads into East Africa; already, it has an assembly plant in Mombasa, Kenya, where it also has a regional sales office and a warehouse for parts.
“Africa is one of our most important target markets globally, and Foton eyes to penetrate into the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Free Trade Zone,” said Sun Qingzhong, General Manager of Foton Motor Kenya, who led a delegation of the Chinese vehicle maker at the launch in Kigali.
“Rwanda is a strong emerging market, which is why last year we launched the collaboration with ABG,” Sun explained.
For the moment, however, the Foton vehicles sold in Rwanda come from China, as the assembly plant in Kenya (which currently makes the Auman TX Prime Mover) produces right-hand-drive vehicles.
Symphorien Kamanzi, the director-general of Akagera Business Group, for his part expressed optimism that the deal would prove to be fruitful for both companies, and also said he has every confidence in Foton’s vehicles.
“Their products are known worldwide, they are present in more than 100 countries in the world. We believe that their products are of high quality, especially since they collaborate with Daimler,” he said.
Worldwide, Foton produces 700,000 vehicles per year.