Afghan firm eyes emerging middle class with new cars, trucks

The firm, Amin Noor, presented the vehicles at a ceremony in the capital Kabul, a reminder that in a country beset by militant violence and political instability there are companies working hard to tap a small but growing middle class. “The overall cost is much cheaper than those products we import to Afghanistan,” Economy Minister Mustafa Mastoor told Reuters at…

By Hameed Farzad

KABUL, Sept 2 (Reuters) – An Afghan company has unveiled arange of small trucks and passenger vans which it hopes willappeal to a local market still dominated by second-hand Japanesemodels imported via Dubai.

The firm, Amin Noor, presented the vehicles at a ceremony inthe capital Kabul, a reminder that in a country beset bymilitant violence and political instability there are companiesworking hard to tap a small but growing middle class.

Beyond the security challenges, firms also face the addedhurdle of power cuts that are a regular occurrence acrossAfghanistan.

“The overall cost is much cheaper than those products weimport to Afghanistan,” Economy Minister Mustafa Mastoor toldReuters at the ceremony, where white vans, trucks and cars weredecorated in red ribbon.

Some were electric and powered by rechargeable batteries,others by diesel.

“We are confident that the Afghan market will welcome thesetype of products, not only from Amin Noor company but all otherinvestors if they come and invest in quality products.”

There are 11 different models in total, priced between$1,200 and $2,500. Amin Noor has produced 200 vehicles to date.

For company manager Ahmad Zia Ahmadyar, the next phase forAmin Noor – which produces vehicles at its factory in Balkhprovince in the north of Afghanistan – was to reduce the numberof parts that needed importing.

“After three years, we were able to produce up to 80% of theparts of these vehicles ourselves,” he said.

“Our goal is to produce the parts of these vehicles that westill import from abroad, such as the engine, tires, and windowglass … in the next five or 10 years.”(Reporting by Hameed Farzad; Editing by Alexandra Hudson andMike Collett-White)

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