Walter Muchinguri Assistant Business Editor
Willowvale Motor Industry (WMI) is set to relaunch its assembly plant before the end of the week as it seeks to assume its new role of being a multi-contract assembler.
The plant has been under care and maintenance since September 2012 when production plunged to below 4 000 from a peak of 18 000 vehicles per year in 1997 due to a myriad of challenges.
The relaunch, which will take place on March 27, will see Willowvale assembling different types of vehicles for different vehicle manufacturers on contract following the end of its marriage with Mazda, which restricted it to assembling Mazda vehicles only.
A source close to the development said the vehicle assembler has already secured a contract to assemble vehicles for a Chinese state-owned enterprise and holding company of several automobile and machine manufacturers, Beijing Automobile International Corporation (BAIC), which will be working with a local car dealership Astro Motors.
Industrial Development Corporation group public relations advisor, Derek Sibanda confirmed the relaunch.
“We are expecting the vice president of BAIC to arrive in the country on March 26 for the relaunch, which is in line with the restructuring and turnaround strategy of IDC that was approved by Cabinet in November last year.
“The strategy identifies WMI as one of the key companies under the IDC that need to be resuscitated urgently because of its huge potential to benefit downstream industries.
“Under the new thrust WMI is reverting to the model it was using in 1989 where it was just assembling vehicles using available expertise and is not involved beyond that process,” he said.
Mr Sibanda said it is expected that WMI will in the long term start re-engaging the workforce it retrenched when the plant was mothballed.