Muscat: The first batch of buses bearing the ‘Made in Oman’ label have begun rolling out from the modern assembly plant of Karwa Motors at Duqm Special Economic Zone.
The imminent launch of the project – an Omani-Qatari joint venture – comes against the backdrop of celebrations marking the Sultanate of Oman’s 51st National Day of the Renaissance.
Earlier this year, Karwa Motors announced that it planned to manufacture around 200 buses by the end of this year, targeted primarily at schools and educational institutions. Production is proposed to be ramped up to around 500 buses and coaches annually in the first phase of operations, eventually rising to 700 vehicles thereafter. Target markets will include passenger transportation companies and operators of long-haul inter-city travel.
The landmark project is backed by Karwa Motors, a strategic partnership between Qatar Transport, the national transport company in Qatar with a 70 per cent stake, and a subsidiary of Oman Investment Authority (OIA), the integrated sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman, owning the balance 30 per cent.
Project costs amount to $90 million in Phase 1, with total investment expected to triple to $270 million over the next two phases.
The plant has been designed and equipped to assemble primarily coach buses, city buses and school buses tailored for the local and regional markets. Electric coaches are also envisaged as part of the project’s product range.
Semac Oman, the local subsidiary of prominent Indian multidisciplinary design and engineering consultancy firm, Semac Consultants, was the Main Consultant for Civil Designs. China’s MMI Planning & Engineering Institute was the Main Consultant for Factory Design and Operations. Leading Chinese bus-maker Higer is the Technology Partner and supplier of CKD units for the Karwa Motors project.
Significantly, the plant is expected to jumpstart the growth of a thriving automotive manufacturing industry in the Sultanate. While most parts and accessories are initially sourced from overseas suppliers, the potential for import-substitution is expected to give rise to local ventures serving the needs of Karwa Motors.