RIYADH: Md Rasooldeen
Published — Wednesday 27 February 2013
Last update 1 March 2013 3:04 am
Young Saudis are receiving training to assemble Isuzu trucks in the Japanese auto manufacturer’s plant in Dammam, according to Gerald Samrout, the general manager of Allissa Universal Motors (AUM).
Samrout was speaking to Arab News following the opening of the AUM showroom in Riyadh on Monday.
The showroom, which is near exit 18 of the Ring Road, is the largest Isuzu outlet in the Middle East. The facility is spread over an area of 3,000 square meters and is intended to serve as the headquarters of Alissa Universal Motor, the authorized dealer of Isuzu vehicles in the Central Region.
It includes the main showroom for Isuzu trucks as well as an outlet for selling spare parts.
The opening ceremony coincided with the launch of the 2013 Isuzu D-MAX, the latest offspring in the family of Isuzu series. This newest model updates the full range of Isuzu trucks offered by Alissa, which includes the popular Isuzu D-MAX pickup truck, Isuzu N-Series light duty trucks, Isuzu F-Series medium-duty trucks, and Isuzu CY-Series heavy-duty trucks.
“The new Isuzu truck (FSR) manufactured in the Isuzu Motors factory in Saudi Arabia will be displayed in our new showroom, along with an extensive marketing campaign designed to promote the Saudi auto manufacturing industry,” Samrout said. “Our objective is to gain the long-term trust of Saudi companies and individuals.”
He added, “We will be able to assemble around 50 vehicles and in 2017, we aim to assemble 25,000 trucks a year.”
Isuzu Motors’ Dammam assembly plant produces medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The 25,000 vehicles are earmarked for export to Asia.
Training Saudis for assembly jobs allows Isuzu to comply with Nitaqat, but equally important is the fact that the training helps lay foundation to wean the Kingdom from solely relying on gas and oil revenues. Saudi Arabia is developing a healthy petrochemical industry. Automobile manufacturing is also a logical extension of petrochemical production since it puts the country squarely in the automobile building business.
Fayez Al-Sharef, chemical project director for Saudi Aramco, told Bloomberg News in 2011 that as many as 100,000 jobs can be created in the future Saudi automotive industry with vehicle production reaching 500,000 annually,
Yet employing Saudis is only a tentative step toward become a player in the automotive industry. Developing infrastructure to support auto manufacturing is far from complete and a trained labor pool remains in its infancy.