Quest shelves civil servants vehicles roll out
MUTARE — Quest Motor Corporation has put on hold its plans to roll out low cost vehicles for civil servants owing to policy-related challenges bedevilling the country’s motor industry.
The project has been stalled by government’s prevarication on the issue of second-hand vehicle imports as well as the high interest rates obtaining in the banking sector.
For the project to get off the ground it needed a captive market for the vehicles but with imported vehicles landing in the country at giveaway prices, it simply couldn’t fly.
Also the punitive lending rates prevailing in the financial sector meant that the ultimate price for the vehicle was going to be uncompetitive.
As a result, Quest operations manager, Carl Fernandez, said last week that the project had been put on hold.
“The project is ready, but we can’t compete with second-hand vehicles sold in Japan at (as little as) US$100. So we can’t commit resources until there is clarity on second hand vehicle (imports),” he said.
Although there has been a significant decrease in interest rates charged by banks, from 22 percent last year to 13 percent this year, the figure still needs to come down to make most businesses viable.
The Quest operations manager is of the view that most businesses would become viable if banks reduce interest rates further.
“We anticipate that it they (interest rates) will come down to a single digit very soon. When that happens, then you can easily approach a bank and say here is my pay slip, I need a car and things can move.
“As you can see we are ready with the project, but we can’t commit until the other pieces of the puzzle come into place,” he said.
Fernandez had sold the idea of low cost vehicles for civil servants to educationists last year during their maiden tour of the vehicle assembling plant. The idea was welcomed by Manicaland provincial education director, Edward Shumba.
Quest had already secured partnerships with several banks to finance the “people’s car” scheme, mooted five years ago.
Civil servants were meant to purchase vehicles from Quest after making a small deposit followed by monthly installments for a stipulated period.
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